Defense bill’s lesser provisions may have big impact

Defense bill’s lesser provisions may have big impact

One lawmaker wants safer cockpit door locks for the civilian planes that transport troops.

Another wants to let service members carry private weapons on base.

Several others want easier regulations on small-business owners bidding on defense contracts.

And they all want their proposals included in the upcoming 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, the massive annual budget legislation that is just starting to come into focus.

Each year, the bill sets spending guidelines for thousands of critical Pentagon priorities, but also includes a host of smaller, sometimes controversial policy changes.

The House Armed Services Committee will unveil its first drafts of the expected $600 billion-plus measure next week, outlining goals for annual endeavors such as setting the military basic pay raise, retiring and preserving various aircraft, and reforming the defense acquisition process.

But each year, the legislation also contains hundreds of provisions on lower-profile issues such as transferring unused base land to local communities, awarding overdue medals to battlefield heroes and protecting pet projects at hometown bases.

For some lawmakers and lobbyists, those lesser-heralded provisions can be more influential politically than helping pass a plan to adequately fund the military.

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