NTU urges all Members of Congress to vote “NO” on the Conference Report to H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2016. After a lengthy negotiations process – and despite some minor improvements – the legislation still falls short of the fiscal restraint taxpayers need.
Of primary concern, the legislation authorizes an unjustifiable Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account plus-up of $38.3 billion over the Pentagon’s original $50.9 billion request. These additional funds are earmarked for the so-called “Overseas Contingency Operations for Base Budget Requirements,” which the Congressional Budget Office notes “in recent years have counted against defense caps.” Also troubling is the Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, another budgetary gimmick which would shift funding for the Navy’s Ohio-class submarine replacement to the general Defense-wide procurement budget. The result is increased pressure on the Pentagon’s overall financial structure, while leaving the Navy’s shipbuilding monies intact for other projects. Deeming this program a “national asset” opens the door for other branches to shift spending toward darker corners of the general budget, masking the true cost of procurement.
The Conference Report does pursue laudable reforms, notably modest reductions in the basic housing allowance, a one year increase in the TriCare pharmacy co-pay rate for some prescriptions, workforce rightsizing, and changes to some wasteful programs. Yet to the degree they occur, any savings have been reprogrammed – often for unfunded priorities and wasteful projects such as the East Coast Missile Defense site – rather than being employed to address our most exigent threat: the national debt.
Lawmakers deserve credit for making essential improvements to personnel benefits and acquisition processes. Nonetheless, overall the NDAA Conference Report continues to ignore numerous opportunities to achieve savings and avoids the tough decisions necessary to bring Pentagon spending in line with budgetary constraints.
Roll call votes on the Conference report to H.R. 1735 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.
If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700