NDAA Update

The House and Senate are out of session this week for the Memorial Day recess. Before leaving town last week, The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 351-66. 59 Democrats and 7 Republicans voted no. The seven Republicans who voted No are:

Justin Amash (MI-04)

Ken Buck (CO-04)

Jimmy Duncan (TN-02)

Morgan Griffith (VA-09)

Walter Jones (NC-03)

Raoul Labrador (ID-01)

Thomas Massie  (KY-04)

You can see the final vote on the NDAA here.

Representatives Amash and Massie joined with Republican Mark Sanford and Democrat Barbara Lee (CA-15) to offer an amendment ending indefinite detention. However, the Rules Committee, which acts on behalf of the Speaker, rushed to allow the amendment to be voted on.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) offered an amendment removing the section of the bill authorizing “destabilizing activities” against the Iran government—I guess Miss Gabbard who is a veteran, doesn’t see the wisdom in another Mid-Eastern war. That amendment was defeated by a vote of 60-355. Eight Republicans voted for this pro-peace amendment:

Justin Amash

Michael Burgess (TX-26)

Jimmy Duncan

Walter Jones

Raoul  Labrador

Thomas Massie

Mark Sanford  (SC-01)

Campaign for Liberty signed a coalition letter supporting 22 amendments designed to either reduce spending or implement reforms to help make the Pentagon behave in a more fiscally reasonable manner. Of those 22, 9 where made in order, and two received a roll-call vote.

One of the amendments, offered by Representative Rick Nolan (MN-8), would have struck funds available for the “Overseas Contingency Fund,” the Pentagon’s slush fund that enables them to avoid budget caps—although with the breaking of the caps this year the Pentagon is going to rely less on OCO  in future years. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 62-361. Seven Republicans and 55 Democrats voted for the amendment.

The Seven Republicans are:

Justin Amash

Ken Buck

Jimmy Duncan

Paul Gosar (AZ-04)

Walter Jones

Thomas Massie

Daniel Webster (FL-11)

You can see that vote here.

The other, by Representative Agular (CA-31) would have required the Defense Department to include a 20-year estimate of the life cycle of each type of nuclear weapon in its budget. That amendment was defeated by a vote of 198-217.  You can see that vote here.

An amendment by Representative Garret Graves (LA-5) requiring a report on management of military exchanges and commissaries and an amendment by Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-05) requiring a report ranking all military departments and agencies by how advanced they are in complying with audit requirements was adopted by voice vote.

Three amendments dealing with OCO – one by Representative Ralph Norman (NC-5) requiring the Office of Management and Budget to keep a separate account for OCO spending , one by Representative John Yarmuth (KY-03) requiring the Department of Defense to provide estimates of costs associated with OCO funding in its budget submission to Congress, and one by Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) requiring the Comptroller to submit a report to Congress regarding the use of OCO funds—were included in “end block” amendments which is where a group of amendments are combined into a single passage.

Other amendments included in “end block” amendments were one by Jimmy Duncan which calls for the Secretary of Defense to submit a report regarding awards and commissions presented to military personnel for coming up with cost-saving ideas and one by Representative Kurt Schrader (OR-5) requiring the Defense Department to report to Congress on how it is implementing savings recommendations made by the 2016 Defense Business Board.

Concerns have been raised that putting some these amendments into end blocks where they do not receive a separate roll-call vote makes it easier for Congressional leadership to remove them in a House-Senate conference bill.

The NDAA now heads to the Senate, where there is a possibility that Senators Bob Corker and Tim Kaine will ally to attach their new Authorization of Millitary Force (AUMF) which gives the President virtually unlimited power to wage war and indefinitely detain anyone he sees fit. Campaign for Liberty is opposing this AUMF and you can help our efforts by signing your No New AUMF petition to your U.S. Senators. You can sign the petition here.

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