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New Cyber Hiring Authority at DHS

New Cyber Hiring Authority at DHS

Brittany R. Ballenstedt | Government Executive

October 05, 2009

The Senate was moving closer to passage of the $636.3 billion fiscal 2010 Defense Appropriations bill Thursday night, although a long list of amendments awaiting consideration and votes will push a final vote on the measure to Tuesday at the earliest.

During floor debate, the chamber approved an amendment offered by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., that requires the Missile Defense Agency to submit reports to Congress on the funding needed to maintain production lines for ground-based interceptor missiles and the acquisition strategy for the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense program.

Shelby’s amendment came after the Pentagon’s decision in April to halt plans to increase the number of ground-based interceptors in Alaska. And last month, the administration decided to drop efforts to install the interceptors in Europe, opting to focus instead on near-term deployment of systems to protect Europe from the threat of Iranian short- and mid-range missiles.

The Senate also approved on voice vote language sponsored by Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., that encourages the administration to continue monthly integrated civilian-military training for civilians deploying to Afghanistan.

But Senate action ground to a halt late Thursday as plans for a flurry of roll-call votes on amendments stalled.

Among the amendments still pending was one from Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., that would restore a $900 million cut from the Obama administration’s $7.5 billion request for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund.

The White House has taken issue with the cut, arguing in its Statement of Administration Policy on the bill that the full request reflects plans for the Afghan forces to assume a greater share of responsibility for security as quickly as possible.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said the administration indicated it would not be able to spend $1.8 billion of the amount requested for Afghan security forces until fiscal 2011. The money, he argued, would be better spent on buying more all-terrain Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles for Afghanistan.

“It’s a situation of, ‘Yes, we need the money, but we can’t spend it,’” Inouye said. “That’s a hell of a way to run the government.”

Meanwhile, Sens. Christopher (Kit) Bond, R-Mo., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., have offered an amendment that prohibits the Air Force from retiring tactical aircraft until the Air Force secretary reports to Congress on how he plans to fill the capability gaps resulting from standing down the planes.

Bond and Leahy, co-chairmen of the Senate National Guard Caucus, are concerned that retiring fighters will deplete the Air Guard’s inventory until the stateside units receive the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. National Guard boosters want the Air Force to consider buying older fighters to fill the gap.

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