NTU urges all Senators to vote “NO” on the McCain (R-AZ) substitute amendment (#1463) to H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. Upon thorough evaluation, neither the amendment nor the underlying legislation is able to deliver the fiscal restraint and reform taxpayers urgently need.
H.R. 1735 does contain some improvements over current law such as the expansion of portable Thrift Savings Accounts to all enlistees, a reorganization of the Department of Defense with the aim of reducing administrative costs and personnel, and a report on the privatization of commissaries. However, these modest changes are insufficient given the massive funding challenges faced by the Pentagon and taxpayers. Further, the NDAA resorts to gimmicks in order to keep spending authorizations within the caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
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. Also of grave concern is the Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, another 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.
The Senate NDAA once again rejects the next Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round, an initiative that would increase efficiency and reap savings for taxpayers. The legislation also shuns common-sense personnel benefit reforms concerning TRICARE, instead adding new requirements that could increase costs. Much needed savings could likewise be achieved by not authorizing $345 million for construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility (which is far over budget, has no customers, and threatens even higher future liabilities). And though the legislation imposes funding limits on the Littoral Combat Ship and F-35 programs until basic benchmarks are achieved, both are still authorized at or above Pentagon requests, despite ongoing questions regarding mission and utility.
Roll call votes on H.R. 1735 and Amendment #1463 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