Military spending, pay raises among unfinished business as Congress recesses

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The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., seen under a blue sky on Sept. 13, 2016. Lawmakers on Wednesday, Sept. 28, passed a temporary measure to avoid a government shutdown.
From Stripes.com
The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., seen under a blue sky on Sept. 13, 2016. Lawmakers on Wednesday, Sept. 28, passed a temporary measure to avoid a government shutdown.

Military spending, pay raises among unfinished business as Congress recesses

by: Travis J. Tritten | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: September 30, 2016

The temporary deal keeps military spending at current levels without any of the changes requested by the Department of Defense in its 2017 budget, which was supposed to take effect at the end of this week.

It does provide a full year of funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which received a small boost from the previous year, and military construction projects. Congress included $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus as well as emergency funding for Louisiana and other areas hit by flooding, and the country’s opioid epidemic. The emergency Flint funds will be provided in separate legislation, according to the agreement between Republicans and Democrats.

The deal was a relief to lawmakers who were eager to leave Washington and get back to campaigning. Control of the Senate appears in play, members face tough re-election fights, and the country is heading toward one of the most divisive presidential elections in recent history.

But the lack of an annual defense budget irks the Defense Department and military, which is unable to make long-term plans and change tack without new spending authority.

The House and Senate broke off negotiations earlier in September on an annual budget bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, after disagreements over the proposed $18-billion increase in military spending.

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