All Ears

By Thomas Duffy / May 24, 2011 at 3:00 PM

The House Rules Committee will meet this afternoon to consider the amendment process for the House Armed Services Committee's fiscal year 2012 defense authorization bill. That bill may be considered on the House floor this week.

Last week, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), the committee's chairman, sent out a "dear colleague" letter spelling out how each House member can offer an amendment to the bill without violating the House Republican Conference's earmark ban. As part of the 111th and 112th Congress, the Republican conference agreed to prohibit Republicans from making congressional earmark requests, McKeon said. He then added:

The House Armed Services Committee bill contains no congressional earmarks. Moreover, I will not support any amendments for congressional earmarks during consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 on the House floor.

What will be allowed are budgetary amendments, McKeon told his House colleagues. These amendments are proposals to make specific funding changes to the defense authorization bill "in order to assert congressional priorities in the conduct of U.S. defense policy."

A key point of these amendments is that the Defense Department cannot be directed to spend money "to a specific entity or within a specific locality," McKeon said. All monies have to be spent through a competitive award process, he added.