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Vote Alert: Key Amendments to FY18 Defense Authorization Bill

by Nan Swift / /

Please find the vote alert for the underlying bill, H.R. 2810 online here. This page has been updated to reflect additional amendments made in order.

As the House considers H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, NTU urges Representatives to vote as follows on amendments. 

First Rule: NTU will consider “YES” votes on the following amendments to be the pro-taxpayer position:

  • Amd. 3 (filed as #286) Graves (R-LA): This amendment would require the Secretary of Defense to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on commissaries and exchanges. Privatizing or reducing subsidies, particularly for stateside commissaries, could generate cost-savings, and has been recommended by the Congressional Budget Office.
  • Amd. 4 (filed as #245) Polis (D-CO)/Lee (D-CA): Excluding health and personnel accounts, this amendment would reduce the base Department of Defense (DOD) budget by one percent, a modest reduction that would demonstrate a willingness to rein in out-of-control spending.
  • Amd. 10 (filed as #93) Aguilar (D-CA); Amd. 12 (filed as #142) Garamendi (D-CA)/et al., & Amd. 88 (filed as #143) Rogers (R-AL): These amendments would extend the cost estimate time period for maintaining, modernizing, and otherwise utilizing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. This would better capture the oftentimes more significant out-year costs associated with with these systems, improving financial and strategic planning across the DOD and Department of Energy budgets.
  • Amd. 13 (filed as #314) Blumenauer (D-OR)/et al.: This amendment would limit spending on the Long Range Standoff weapon (LRSO) until the Nuclear Posture Review is complete, ensuring that funding follows strategic necessity.
  • Amd. 14 (filed as #67) McClintock (R-CA): This amendment would strike section 2702, prohibiting a new round of Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC). The Pentagon has requested a 2019 BRAC order to help alleviate a 22 percent excess capacity and increase efficiency. BRAC could generate billions of dollars in savings far into the future. **Roll call votes on Amd. 14 will be significantly weighted.**
  • Amd. 45 (filed as #371) Conaway (R-TX), et al. & Amd. 46 (filed as #85) Burgess (R-TX), Lee (D-CA), et al.: These amendments would provide essential updates on the Pentagon’s progress and additional requirements towards achieving a full audit. The Pentagon is the only federal department that has not successfully completed an audit. As the largest agency in terms of discretionary spending, it is doubly important that taxpayers and those entrusted with our national security know how funds are dispersed in order to prevent wasteful spending and misallocation of resources.
  • Amd. 48 (filed as #323) Sanford (R-SC): This commonsense amendment would require that the total cost of public National Guard flyovers be tabulated and made public. As with other unclassified military activities, cost transparency should be the default and all potential non-vital spending should be considered for reduction.
  • Amd. 77 (filed as #322) Norman (R-SC): This amendment would require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish separate accounts for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) and DOD funds. This is an important step toward better fiscal accountability and would help prevent misallocation of resources. **Roll call votes on Amd. 77 will be significantly weighted.**
  • Amd. 78 (filed as #97) Cicilline (D-RI)/et al.: This amendment would require the Secretary of Defense to work with OMB to update guidelines regarding the proper use of OCO funds based on Government Accountability Office recommendations. **Roll call votes on Amd. 78 will be significantly weighted.**
  • Amd. 86 (filed as #318) Norman (R-SC): This amendment would require DOD to update the March 2016 “Department of Defense Infrastructure Capacity” report. As DOD considers future strategic infrastructure and funding needs, this will help ensure all decision-makers have the most up-to-date, precise information.

Second Rule: NTU will consider "YES" votes on the following amendments to be the pro-taxpayer position:

  • Amd. 2 (filed as #134) Hudson (R-NC): This commonsense amendment would restrict funds for a new parachute system until the Secretary of the Navy has submitted a certification of need for the system, along with a report addressing other cost and safety concerns. This would forestall a current plan to procure a third system without full testing and planning in place, a wasteful procurement practice repeatedly cited by the Government Accountability Office as problematic.
  • Amd. 3 (filed as #398) Buck (R-CO): This amendment would require the Department of Defense (DOD) to complete a cost competitiveness calculation comparing alternative and traditional fuels to ensure taxpayers are funding the most cost-effective fuel sources.
  • Amd. 25 (filed as #44) Fitzpatrick (R-PA): This amendment would reduce duplication and research costs by improving coordination across departments and services.
  • Amd. 26 (filed as #321) Norman (R-SC): This amendment would improve personnel decision-making by directing the Comptroller General to conduct a review of the Department of Defense Cost Models. Personnel costs consume approximately one-quarter of the annual Defense budget.

First Rule: NTU will consider “NO” votes on the following amendments to be the pro-taxpayer position:

  • Amd. 5 (filed as #334) Pocan (D-WI)/Jayapal (D-WA): This amendment would express the sense of Congress that any authorization to increase DOD and OCO spending be matched by an increase in non-defense discretionary spending. This is irresponsible fiscal policy that would aggravate our unsustainable outlays. **Roll call votes on Amd. 5 will be significantly weighted.**
  • Amd. 42 (filed as #288) Nolan (D-MN)/et al.: This amendment would express the sense of Congress that a strong domestic iron ore and steel industry is vital to our national security. Asserting federal authority on behalf of specific industries, based on misguided notions on trade and industrial bases, creates protectionist policies that could increase costs. Instead, Pentagon spending policies should be driven by project requirements and the value added for taxpayers.

Second Rule: NTU will consider “NO” votes on the following amendments to be the pro-taxpayer position:

  • Amd. 19 (filed as #241) Poliquin (R-ME): This amendment is a step in the wrong direction for acquisition reform. It would shift costs and risks in the building of destroyers from contractors to the Navy, and hence, to taxpayers. These cost-plus style contracts lead to cost-overruns and reduce incentives to minimize waste.
  • Amd. 121 (filed as #428) Marino (R-PA): This amendment requires a report by the Secretary of Defense on the domestic procurement of tungsten and tungsten powders, a preliminary step toward increased protectionism and corporate welfare that could increase costs for taxpayers.
  • Amd. 122 (filed as #205) Tenney (D-NY)/et al.: This amendment would expand Berry Amendment restrictions to flatware, requiring domestic sourcing. Like Amendment 121 and an earlier amendment on iron ore and steel, this disturbing trend toward artificially boosting domestic industries is rooted in misguided notions regarding the benefits of trade and will increase costs for taxpayers. This kind of short-sighted rent-seeking also leaves fewer funds for true national security priorities. Again, Pentagon spending policies should be driven by project requirements and value for taxpayers, not parochial politics.