NTU urges all Members of Congress to vote “No” the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2014. At a time of persistent debt and deficits, this legislation represents a missed opportunity to restrain military spending, address longstanding waste at the Pentagon, and strengthen our defense posture.
Like its Senate predecessor, the new NDAA agreement authorizes the Department of Defense to spend $54 billion over the Budget Control Act’s $498.1 billion cap, which is set at an amount approximately equal to what was spent in 2006. In one area after another, this legislation ignores the law of the land, the fiscal challenges facing our nation, and the chance to improve national security programs both for those in the armed forces and the country they so ably serve.
For example, instead of fundamentally restructuring or reconsidering procurement of the F-35 B and C variants, NDAA merely calls for “additional oversight.” The same is true for the long-troubled Littoral Combat Ship, which has been plagued by cost overruns, cracked hulls, and mechanical problems. In a July 2013 report, the Government Accountability Office recommended restricting funds for additional ships and called the current acquisition approach “risky.” The agreement also includes funding for East Coast missile defense, a project the Pentagon has said would “not be of use” and the Congressional Budget Office predicts will cost $3.6 billion over five years. Explicitly prohibiting the Department of Defense (DOD) from initiating another round of BRAC consolidations and rejecting attempts to sensibly control TRICARE costs cuts off two important avenues of savings at a time when excess infrastructure and rising health care expenses consume ever larger portions of the DOD budget (and which the department itself seeks Congress’s help in trimming).
Recent reports detailing mismanaged bookkeeping, doctored ledgers, and misplaced billions of dollars in supplies makes it unlikely that “additional oversight” and reports such as one on the M1 Abrams tank’s fuel efficiency will be the cure-all for waste at the Pentagon. In addition, the fact that a robust amendment process is unlikely for this weighty legislation means that Congress won’t have the chance to debate and potentially fix some of the worst measures in NDAA.
Our growing debt and out-of-control spending pose a significant threat to future prosperity, and therefore the nation’s security. Congress can best protect that future by setting policies that are both sustainable and realistic; regrettably this legislation does neither. Taxpayers deserve a fiscally sound strategy for defending America.
Roll call votes on NDAA will be heavily weighted in our annual Rating of Congress and “NO” votes will be considered the pro- taxpayer position.
If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700