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Vote Alert

"YES" on the following amendments to H.R. 4870, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2015

June 19, 2014

 H.R. 4870, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act 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 technically stay within the more generous spending levels outlined in the Ryan-Murray budget agreement, it does so by avoiding tough decisions and shifting funds to protect pet programs. The legislation 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. 4870 perpetuates wasteful spending by cutting funding that would support the 2017 round of Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC), an initiative that would eliminate unnecessary military properties and reap compounding savings for taxpayers. The legislation also rejects 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 Administration has not provided a specific Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget request, the outsized $79.4 billion stipulated in H.R. 4870 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. The legislation also includes billions of dollars in unrequested funds for equipment the Pentagon has stated it does not need, such four more F-35s than requested, M-1 Abrams tank upgrades, and an additional EA-18G aircraft.

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. 4870:

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

  • Speier (D-CA): LCS Counter-Mine Mission Module Amendment: This amendment would save taxpayers $50.2 million by reducing funds for the troubled Littoral Combat Ship’s (LCS) counter-mine mission module. According to the Government Accountability Office, the current inventory is far above what is necessary for operational testing. Taxpayer funds should not be spent on purchasing additional packages during the design and development phase, especially without demonstrated performance.
  • Speier (D-CA): No New LCS Contracts Amendment: This amendment would prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to negotiate or enter into a contract for the procurement of more LCS vessels. The LCS has been plagued by cost overruns, delays, cracked hulls, aggressive corrosion, mechanical problems, and inaccurate weapons systems. The Pentagon has admitted the LCS is “not expected to be survivable” in combat situations. In light of this and its mounting capability restrictions, lawmakers should consider whether the LCS is capable of achieving its core mission before wasting any more funds on this boondoggle.
  • Nadler (D-NY): Decommission Missile Silos Amendment: This amendment would strike language that prevents funds from being used to decommission Minuteman III ballistic missile silos. The Air Force should have the flexibility to reexamine the role of ICBMs to respond to future fiscal and security priorities. Given the many redundant nuclear capabilities of our military, evaluating the proper size of the ICBM force could be a prudent way to gain compounding savings in the future and one supported by the R Street Institute, the Project on Government Oversight, and Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Roll call votes on the above amendments to H.R. 4870 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