NTU Urges Senators to Oppose FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act

View as PDF

NTU urges all Senators to vote “NO” on S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. This legislation ignores budget caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and increases irresponsible spending through the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. Lawmakers should oppose this proposal and focus on improving the legislation by adopting amendments that encourage fiscal responsibility and spending transparency.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) implemented prudent, rational spending limits for both defense and non-defense spending over a decade. As Congress works through authorization and appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2020, the second-to-last year BCA spending caps are in effect, Senators should reject S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020. S. 1790 authorizes base discretionary defense funding at $665.7 billion ($642.5 billion for DOD, $23.2 billion for DOE), which is more than 15 percent above the defense spending cap originally set by BCA and updated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 ($576 billion). Violating these caps only adds to the nation’s growing debt crisis, which both military and intelligence leaders warn threatens national security.
Even more troubling than S. 1790’s ignorance of budget caps is its authorization of $75.9 billion for OCO. Considered a “slush fund” that boosts the national defense topline with spending not subject to BCA caps, OCO receives a 10-percent boost this year ($6.9 billion) from authorized OCO levels in the Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA. Rather than doubling down on irresponsible spending strategies through OCO, NTU urges Senators to adhere to BCA spending caps and avoid padding the Pentagon’s budget.
S. 1790 also includes authorization for additional spending Pentagon leaders did not ask for. This includes 16 more Joint Strike Fighter aircraft than the administration asked for and $1.4 billion more in Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation programs. Congress should listen to Pentagon leaders, rather than funding programs or systems above and beyond what military leaders determine is necessary.
NTU strongly urges Senators to oppose S. 1790 in its current form and work to improve the underlying bill by adopting fiscally responsible amendments.
Roll call votes on S. 1790 will be significantly weighed 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 Policy and Government Affairs Associate Andrew Lautz at alautz@ntu.org.