first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his House counterpart, Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), are expected to continue negotiations over the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill during Congress’ August recess with the goal of completing a conference report in September.“We’re not going to stay in town, but there are phones and all kinds of ways of communicating and engaging,” McCain said.The two committee leaders planned to meet Thursday night to see if they could make progress on some of the most contentious issues separating the two sides, reported CQ Roll Call. Differences over military benefits have proven to be among the negotiation’s most difficult hurdles, as the Senate version embraces cost-saving proposals to slow the rate of increase in service members’ basic allowance for housing and raise Tricare prescription co-pays that the House rejects.Thornberry recently has offered a compromise regarding the proposed increase in co-pays for prescriptions, reported Politico.“The House is willing to consider modest Tricare co-pay adjustments, but only enough to prevent a point of order on the Senate floor related to the retirement system,” according to a memo Thornberry sent to his Republican committee members. “They would be roughly 30 percent of the Senate proposal. The House is unwilling to accept 100 percent of proposed increases,” the memo states.The conference committee also needs to resolve differences in the how the two versions replace the 20-year retirement benefit with a 401(k)-style savings plan that all personnel could take advantage of. The Senate bill would pay for the cost of the changes upfront, while the House bill does not.last_img

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