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Defense Authorization Agreement Triggers Next Budget Battle

by Nan Swift / /

NTU urges all Members of Congress to vote “NO” on the conference report to H.R. 2810, the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This report exacerbates our growing spending crisis and lays the groundwork to again trigger an end-of-year budget battle royale.

Conferees had numerous opportunities to reduce wasteful spending and bring topline numbers within the limits prescribed by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). Yet, the report authorizes spending at levels far above those requested by the Pentagon to the tune of $26.1 billion and doubles down on failing programs.

For example, the report authorizes two additional Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) over the one requested. The LCS could be a poster child for what happens when parochial politics trump strategy and common sense. This was clear from the get-go when Congress authorized two distinct designs from different shipyards. This in turn requires different types of crews, parts, and training. Costs and problems have ballooned even as expectations and capabilities have shrunk.  Adding an extra 20 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters likewise does little to address the underlying problems with the program. This summer, pilots in Arizona experienced symptoms associated with oxygen-deprivation, grounding that fleet, and early this month, Lockheed discovered yet another manufacturing “glitch,” forcing deliveries to be halted.

The report also rejects the Pentagon’s regular request to move forward with a planned Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in order to reduce excess infrastructure and generate billions in savings for years to come. Further, despite exceeding the BCA caps by more than $77 billion in the base budget alone, this NDAA still authorizes an additional $65.8 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. Taxpayers scored a minor win with provisions that could increase accountability of OCO funds still it is disappointing to see Congress continue to misuse this account, even as it busts the BCA caps

In refusing to reexamine and reform how Pentagon dollars are spent, this NDAA once again misses an important opportunity to rein in spending and cut waste.

Roll call votes on H.R. 2810 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.