'Compromise' NDAA Still Authorizes Too Much Military Spending

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NTU urges all Representatives and Senators to vote "NO" on S. 1605, the compromise version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation would authorize defense spending at an unsustainable level of $768 billion, a five-percent increase from FY 2021 authorization levels. The President’s FY 2022 defense budget already forestalled much-needed reductions in the defense topline. Instead of pursuing bold reforms to defense spending, lawmakers have decided to authorize $25 billion more than the President and the Department of Defense asked for in FY 2022. Lawmakers should approve amendments that reduce the defense topline, or otherwise vote against the FY 2022 NDAA.

Year after year, NTU warns lawmakers that they are authorizing and appropriating far too many taxpayer dollars for defense spending. This has been the case for budgets passed by Republican-controlled Congresses and Democratic-controlled Congresses, under Republican and Democratic presidents, in times of war and in times of relative peace. As the nation winds down its military presence in Afghanistan, confronts a $28.5-trillion debt, stares down trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and grapples with lawmakers’ plans to spend $4.5 trillion more on infrastructure and social programs, it is time for lawmakers to pivot away from decades of profligacy in federal spending and begin reducing deficits. This politically challenging pivot should occur for both defense and non-defense discretionary spending, and of course lawmakers should also pursue long-term reforms for the 65 percent of spending that is effectively on autopilot as mandatory spending.

S. 1605, the FY 2022 NDAA, provides a major boost to defense discretionary spending, at levels nearly five percent higher than authorized in FY 2021. Lawmakers finally did away with funds for the sham that was the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, which in recent years became a slush fund for spending that lawmakers and military officials could not fit under the BCA discretionary spending caps (which were already weakened by bipartisan majorities in Congress). The FY 2022 defense authorization level is also more than 14 percent higher than the FY 2021 BCA cap for defense.

Absent major reductions to the authorized levels of spending in H.R. 4350, lawmakers should reject this legislation.

Roll call votes on S. 1605 will be significantly weighted in NTU’s annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.

If you have any questions, please contact NTU Director of Federal Policy Andrew Lautz at alautz@ntu.org.