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This week in Congress: NDAA

The House of Representatives is in session Monday through Thursday this week. Of course the big event for the liberty movement takes place off the floor: Tuesday's mark-up of Audit the Fed.

The major legislation that will be considered on  the House floor is the National Defense Authorization Act. Campaign for Liberty is currently reviewing proposed amendments and waiting to see which, if any, of the ones made are worth supporting. There will be an update on this later in the week.

Campaign for Liberty has come out in favor of adding language to the NDAA increasing transparency of  funding for overseas operations.  Campaign for Liberty has also joined a collation letter supporting the following reductions in spending:

April 19, 2016

Dear Member of Congress:

As you consider the Pentagon’s budget request for fiscal year 2017, the undersigned groups appreciate your consideration of the following options for savings to comply with the spending caps put in place by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Keeping the Fiscal Year 2017 budget in line with the caps will help the Department of Defense avoid sequestration and save valuable resources in an era of budgetary constraint. We recommend that in implementing these options, the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account for Fiscal Year 2017 be budgeted at no greater than the president’s requested amount of $59 billion and reject amendments to add additional funds to the OCO account.

Proposal                                                                                 Potential FY17 Savings1

Cancel M1 Tank Upgrades                                                     $558.7 million

Over 7,500 M1 tank variants have been built for the U.S. Army and Marines since 1990, more than enough to meet current and projected needs. (Production number from Federation for American Scientists: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/m1-intro.htm)

Proposal                                                                                 Potential FY17 Savings

Cancel or Pause the Littoral Combat Ship                              $1,598.9 million

The LCS is too lightly armored to survive in a combat environment, and has doubled in price relative to initial estimates.  It is an unnecessary drag on the Navy’s shipbuilding budget.

Proposal                                                                                 Potential FY17 Savings

Cancel JLENS                                                                        $45.5 million

The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) is supposed to track flying objects, but tests have found that it cannot consistently track high priority targets or distinguish friendly aircraft from potential threats.

Proposal                                                                                 Potential FY17 Savings

Cancel Air Launched Cruise Missile Follow-On (LRSO)      $315.9 million

The Long Range Standoff (LRSO) Weapon does not add to the United States’ already robust strategic deterrent. Rather, it performs a redundant mission that can be accomplished with the standoff capability of ICBMs or SLBMs, the new penetrating bomber, or the advanced extended range conventional cruise missile.

Proposal                                                                                 Potential FY17 Savings

Reduce service contracting by 15%                                        $22,354.5 million

Service contracting has contributed to an ever-expanding “shadow government” that costs hundreds of millions of dollars annually. A study by the Project On Government Oversight found the average annual contractor billable rate was much more than the average annual full compensation for federal employees performing comparable services Judicious cuts to service contracts would increase efficiency and the effectiveness of the Department of Defense.

Proposal                                                                                 Potential FY17 Savings

Cancel the F-35/Buy a mix of F-15E Strike                           $4,431 million2
Eagles, F-16s, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets

The Joint Strike Fighter is unaffordable, and testing has shown that it cannot perform as well as the legacy systems it is designed to replace.

Proposal                                                                                 Potential FY17 Savings

Defense Business Board Moderate Efficiency Savings Scenario      $9,170.3 million3

Modest early retirement option and limited backfill of retirements and attrition of the Defense Department’s work force could result in significant savings.

Proposal                                                                                 Potential FY17 Savings

Cancel or Pause the GBSD                                                     $113.9 million

The current fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) will be operational until 2030 due to a $7 billion life extension program now underway. Given uncertainty over future force requirements and deterrence needs, development of the ICBM follow on, or ground based strategic deterrent (GBSD) is premature.

Total: $38.6 billion

Sincerely,

Campaign for Liberty
Center for Foreign and Defense Policy
Center for International Policy
Council for a Livable World
Downsize DC
Friends Committee on National Legislation
London Center
National Priorities Project
National Taxpayers Union
Niskanen Center
Peace Action
Project on Government Oversight
Republican Liberty Caucus
Taxpayer Protection Alliance
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Win Without War
Women's Action for New Directions

The House will also consider H.R. 897, the Zika Vector Control Act. This act lifts some requirements that business get a permit from federal or state governments before putting pesticides into "navigable waters." The point of the bill is to make it easier to control the spread of the Zika virus. These seems like a good idea, however the fact that this applies to state governments is troublesome.

The House will also begin work on H.R. 4974,the 2017 Military Construction Approbations bill. This is the first appropriations bill the House will consider.

On Monday the House will consider bills under suspension of the rules, including these bills:

1. H.R. 3832-- Imposes new criminal penalties on identity theft and creates a new program at the IRS to stop identity thieves from fraudulent filing a tax return and taking someone else's "refund."

This seems good, or at least harmless, however it also allows the IRS to use information from the E-Verify program to identify and stop ID theft. Stopping ID theft is a good thing, but it does show that Campaign for Liberty is correct when we warned that E-Verify would be used for purposes other than verifying an individual's ability to legally hold a job.

2. H.R. 1150 the Frank Wold International Religious Freedom Act-- As the title suggests, the bill authorities increased US involvement with the domestic affairs of other nations in the name of religious freedom.

3. H.R. 4743 the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act-- this act authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to create a consortium of "... academic, nonprofit, private industry, and federal, state, and local government partners to address cybersecurity risks and incidents, including threats or acts of terrorism."

Under the bill the consortium is authorized to:

  • provide training to state and local first responders and officials, develop curriculums, and provide technical assistance;
  • conduct cross-sector cybersecurity training and simulation exercises, including for state and local governments, critical infrastructure owners and operators, and private industry;
  • coordinate with DHS's national cybersecurity and communications integration center to help states and communities develop cybersecurity information sharing programs; and
  • assist in the incorporation of cybersecurity risk and incident prevention and response into existing state and local emergency plans.

Considering the federal government's poor record of protecting its own data, it seems odd to think that giving the federal government more ability to influence the cybersecurity measures adopted by state and local governments and the private sector will accomplish anything.

4. H.R. 4780 Department of Homeland Security Strategy for International Programs Act. Requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop a three-year strategy "....for international programs in which DHS personnel and resources are deployed abroad for vetting and screening persons seeking to enter the United States."

The Senate will consider the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill this week.


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