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Vote Alert

NTU urges Congress to vote as follows on H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015

May 21, 2014

H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015, marks a significant missed opportunity to restrain military spending and address longstanding waste at the Pentagon amid persistent debt and deficits that continue to create economic uncertainty. While the legislation does stay within the more generous spending levels outlined in the Ryan-Murray budget agreement,  it does so by avoiding tough decisions, shifting funds to protect pet programs, and projecting future spending levels far above the caps still in force under the Budget Control Act. The NDAA does the Pentagon and taxpayers no favors by further kicking the can down on the road and making future changes all the harder.

Specifically, H.R. 4435 perpetuates wasteful spending by rejecting the next Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round, an initiative that would eliminate unnecessary military properties and reap compounding savings for taxpayers. The legislation also rejected common-sense personnel benefit reforms put forward by the Administration concerning TRICARE, housing allowances, and commissaries in an attempt to rein in what is becoming an increasingly large proportion of the defense budget.  Though the White House has not provided a specific Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget request, the outsized $79.4 billion stipulated in H.R. 4435 far eclipses the anticipated costs of our diminished role in Afghanistan and practically ensures further base budget expenses will be shifted off the books to OCO.

Still, lawmakers have the opportunity to improve on the underlying legislation and to that end, NTU urges Representatives to vote as follows on amendments to H.R. 4435:

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

  • Amendment 6 (filed as #76): Daines (R-MT)/et al: This amendment would strike subsection (c) of Section 1634 of the bill, thereby requiring the U.S. to maintain 450 ICBM silos in perpetuity rather than giving the Air Force the flexibility to respond to future fiscal and security priorities.

  • Amendment 62 (filed as #122): Ross (R-FL): This amendment would prohibit the Department of Defense from using funds to close commissary stores. Closing commissaries would save $1.3 billion a year according to the Congressional Budget Office, which has long reported on the advantages of the plan.

  • Amendment 145 (filed as #16): Turner (R-OH): This amendment would limit the availability of funds for removal or consolidation of dual-capable aircraft from Europe.

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

  • Amendment 8 (filed as #277): Polis (D-CO)/Blumenauer (D-OR): This amendment would prohibit funds from being used for the Navy to carry out the refueling and complex overhaul of the U.S.S. George Washington, saving $483,600,000. The Navy had decided to defer a decision on the overhaul until 2016 before the new funding was provided in Committee.

  • Amendment 24 (filed as #221): Blumenauer (D-OR): This amendment would require the CBO to update, on an annual basis, their report on the projected costs of the U.S. nuclear forces.

  • Amendment 34 (filed as #151): Bishop (R-UT): This amendment would authorize the military services to charge attendees a fee to air shows and military base open houses.

  • Amendment 37 (filed as #131): Griffith (R-VA)/Ellison (D-MN): This amendment would require DOD to fulfill former Secretary Gates’ Efficiency Initiative to reduce the number of general and flag officers, helping to address costly star-creep.

  • Amendment 87 (filed as #72): Burgess (R-TX)/Lee (D-CA): This amendment would require a report ranking all military departments and defense agencies in order of how advanced they are in achieving auditable financial statements as required by law.

  • Amendment 120 (filed as #301): Nolan (D-MN): This amendment provides auditing and inspection guidelines for new construction projects in Afghanistan in excess of $500,000 that cannot be physically inspected by authorized civilian personnel.

  • Amendment 138 (filed as #307): Mulvaney (R-SC)/Murphy (D-FL): This amendment would codify criteria developed by OMB in 2010 to clarify when military spending should be designated as contingency operations and properly be part of the OCO budget.

  • Amendment 139 (filed as #284): Walberg (R-MI)/Cohen (D-TN): This amendment would prohibit any new resources for the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund until previously appropriated funds have been fully expended.

  • Amendment 147 (filed as #278): Polis (D-CO)/Nadler (D-NY): This amendment would urge the Secretary of Defense to conduct successful operationally realistic tests before purchasing additional ground-based missile defense interceptors.

  • Amendment 157 (filed as #205): Connolly (D-VA)/Issa (R-CA): This amendment would affect titles 40, 41, and 44 of the United States Code to eliminate duplication and waste in federal information technology acquisition and management, saving taxpayers potentially $2 billion a year.

Roll call votes on the above amendments to H.R. 4435 will be included in NTU’s annual Rating of Congress.

If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700