Precursor Earmarks in Defense Authorization Bill? | Taxpayers for Common Sense

In today’s Washington Post, there’s a story about a provision that was tucked into the FY15 National Defense Authorization.

The provision was titled “Lightweight Segmented Tactical Ladders” and it was nestled in the subcommittee mark of the Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee. After explaining how bad the current ladders are and extolling the virtues of “lightweight carbon fiber composite ladders” the provision required the Secretary of the Army to brief the committee before the end of the year about how great carbon fiber ladders are. One of the members of the subcommittee is Rep. Maffei (D-NY) and there is a manufacturer in his district that makes “lightweight carbon fiber composite ladders.” (subsidiary of Allred – quoted in the article. So is a Maffei spokeswoman confirming he put in the provision).

By House rules, this isn’t an earmark because it doesn’t specify an amount of money to be spent. That said, it is an attempt to get a leg up for a parochial interest by a lawmaker. It’s the pre-earmark. And not surprisingly, many other members of the committee hopped on the bandwagon. We combed through the bill to find the most likely suspects. That doesn’t mean that they are necessarily “precursor earmarks” but they looked like they might be so we pulled them together in the following chart.

Also, it’s worth noting that this committee tried skirting the earmark moratorium in 2011. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.



Amendment Language

Potential Beneficiary*

Tactical Air and Land Forces


Directs the Secretary of the Army tobrief the committee describing

the technologies identified within the Stryker Vehicle Survivability Systems Integration Study program.


Requires the Secretary of the Army tosubmit a plan to HASC/SASC

on the Army’s plan to modernize the National Guard’s fleet of UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters.


Directs the SecDef to provide a report on DoD’s plan to operationally

test and deploy multi-aircraft control technology for UAVs.


Modifies Directive Report Language for a briefing on 25mm ammunition for the Joint Strike Fighter program.


Directs the Secretary of the Army to provide a briefing on the potential benefits of lightweight segmented tactical ladders.

Elbridge, NY (Confirmed)


Directs the Secretary of Defense tobrief the congressional defense

committees on a recapitalization plan for tactical generators.

Illinois Army National Guard



Requires the Secretary to submit a report and detailed briefing on the

policies and procedures of the Department for procuring and

inspecting armored vehicles for transporting civilian employees.


Requests a DOD submit a report to HASC/SASC on emerging flame

resistant technologies that industry is developing and whether these

technologies could decrease the cost of flame resistant uniforms.

Flame resistant cloth woven in Inman, SC at

Inman Mills

Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities


Directs the Secretary of the Navy tobrief the committee on the

performance of the Laser Weapon System after its deployment

aboard the USS Ponce.


Clarifies the subject matter of therequired briefing by the National

Geospatial Intelligence Agency regarding combat forces operating in disadvantaged environments to specify the impact of currently available software tools.


Directs the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and

Engineering to brief the committeeon the technical capability of the

Department to study military-relevant turbulent boundary layer phenomena and identify any gaps in those capabilities.

University of New Hampshire scholar

UNH work for NOAA


Directs the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and

Biological programs to brief the committee on the status of the development of a vaccine for equine encephalitis.


Requires the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition,

Technology, and Logistics to brief the committee on research and

development of high-efficiency conventional missile propulsion.

Strategic Forces


Requires the Director of Naval Reactors to brief the committee on the requirements and costs to maintain the capability to develop an advanced fuel systems for nuclear propulsion.


The amendment specifies Commercial Satellite Weather Data as a requirement of the Secretary of the Air Force’s plan to utilize assets of Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP).

*The “potential beneficiary” has been determined through an internet search that resulted in entities providing the product that were located in or near the requesting lawmaker’s district. This is not definitive. TCS will continue to look into these “precursor earmarks.”

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