Women. Power. Peace.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015, H.R. 4435

Capitol Building, Washington DC, United States, North America

What You Need To Know

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Overall Amendments on Nuclear Weapons
War-Spending Slush Fund (OCO) Amendments on War & Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF)
Amendments on Pentagon Spending Amendments on Women, Peace, and Security
Amendments on Cut Weapons & Find Efficiencies Other Noteworthy Items

May 21, 2014- This week, the House is considering the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2015. The bill authorizes funding for the Department of Defense, nuclear weapons, and war spending (different appropriations bills actually allocate funds). The bill was considered in the House Armed Services Committee during the week of May 12, 2014.

Below, you can find a list of important provisions in the base text of the bill and key amendments that WAND is tracking.

Overall

The bill authorizes $600.7 billion. This stays within the caps set by the Ryan-Murray Bipartisan Budget Agreement: with $523.1 billion for national defense, including $17.9 billion for nuclear weapons, including environmental clean-up at nuclear weapons sites. The amount of $79 billion is provided for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

The War Spending Slush Fund (OCO)

The bill includes the President’s request for a “placeholder” of $79 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO.) The bill does not authorize funding for specific programs within OCO because the President’s budget did not include a detailed funding request for it. While the stated excuse for the omission is that we do not have an agreement with Afghanistan to continue U.S. troop presence there after 2014, in recent years this account has been used to subvert budget caps and fund programs outside of what is needed for U.S. war action. In this way the OCO has earned the label a “war-spending slush fund” because the account has been used to finance activities and procure items unrelated to the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

More on the Pentagon slush fund here.

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Amendments on Pentagon and War Spending Accountability

WAND thinks that careful accounting and transparency is crucial to making sound budget and security decisions. We support these amendments:

WAND SUPPORTS: #87 Burgess (TX), Lee (CA) Pentagon Audit Report -- Requires a report ranking all military departments and Defense Agencies in order of how advanced they are in achieving auditable financial statements as required by law. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

WAND SUPPORTS: #138 Mulvaney (SC), Murphy (FL) OCO Clarification -- Codifies criteria developed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 2010 to clarify when military spending should be designated as contingency operations and properly be part of the Overseas Contingency Operation budget. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

WAND SUPPORTS: #108 Lewis (GA) War Accounting -- Requires the Defense Secretary, in consultation with the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service and he Director of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, to post the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and and Iraq on the Department of Defense’s website. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

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Amendments to Cut Weapons Systems (Conventional & Missile Defense) and Promote Efficiency

WAND SUPPORTS: #8  Polis (CO), Blumenauer (OR) Unrequested Funds for Carrier --  Would prohibit funds from being used for the Navy to carry out the refueling and complex overhaul of the USS George Washington and strikes $483 million in unrequested funding for that purpose; states that the amount reduced shall not be used for any purpose other than deficit reduction. (NOT OFFERED)

WAND SUPPORTS: #37  Griffith (VA), Ellison (MN) Efficiency Would require the Department of Defense to fulfill former Secretary Robert Gates' Efficiency Initiative relating to the number of general and flag officers by reducing approximately 33 positions through attrition by the end of 2015. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

WAND SUPPORTS: #147 Polis (CO) and Nadler (NY) Missile Defense–Would update a "Sense of Congress" in the bill to say that the Secretary of Defense should not procure additional capability enhancement II exo-atmospheric kill vehicles for deployment until after the date on which a successful operationally realistic flight intercept flight test of the kill vehicle has occurred. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

  • This amendment would raise the standards for deploying as-yet-unproven missile defense technology. Even though the ground based mid-course defense system in Alaska has never had a successful flight intercept test, the Pentagon is planning to procure additional kill vehicles for 14 new interceptors for it.  

WAND SUPPORTS: #149 Foster (IL) Missile Defense study -- Requires the Institute for Defense Analyses to study the testing program of the ground based midcourse missile defense system. The Institute for Defense Analyses would be required to produce a report on the effectiveness of the testing program and recommendations for how it can be improved. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

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High Nuclear Weapons Spending Continues

National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) programs got a boost of $144 million above the President’s budget request to for a total of $8.46 billion. This includes $643 million for the B61-12 life extension program and a total of $273.8 million for the W-76 life extension program (an increase of $14.6 million above the President's budget request). The committee report suggested that the NNSA’s “primary focus must be its nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship program.” We believe that NNSA’s mission should align with the goal set by President Obama to strive for “the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons.” Doing so also means that we should be taking actions to reduce our nuclear weapons stockpile and not crowding out investments in other areas, such as preventing nuclear terrorism and dismantling our existing stockpile.

See also the letter to members of the House Armed Services Committee here.

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Nuclear Terrorism Prevention: Good News, Bad News

The GOOD: The bill increases funding above the President’s budget request in several key areas known as the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) and Defense Nuclear Non-Proliferation Research and Development.  The bills adds $80 million for GTRI, which supports converting reactors that use highly enriched uranium to burn low enriched uranium unsuitable for nuclear weapons, the removal and disposition of excess nuclear and radiological materials and the protection of high-priority nuclear materials from theft. Additionally, the bill adds $70 million for Defense Nuclear Non-proliferation Research and Development, which supports programs to improve technical capabilities to detect and verify foreign fuel-cycle activities.

The BAD: Members of Congress are looking for ways to respond punitively to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Unfortunately, this bill attempts to do so by cutting nuclear security programs that have historically enabled Russia to get rid of its hundreds on tons worth of weapons-grade materials, thus making it more difficult for that material to fall into the wrong hands. As a recent article points out, “Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller suggested…that such a prohibition would be tantamount to shooting ‘ourselves in the foot,’ ... ‘At the heart of our rationale for continuing this work’ is that it is ‘manifestly in the national interest of the United States to continue … minimizing the danger that fissile materials [could] fall into the hands of terrorists.’”

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Amendments on Nuclear Weapons

WAND SUPPORTS: #1 Blumenauer (OR) – Authorizes the Secretary of the Air Force to procure not more than 10 radar upgrades for the Air National Guard F-15C/D aircraft, which is offset by cuts to levels authorized beyond the President's Budget Request, spread across 9 accounts. (FAILED, by a vote of 192-291)

  • This amendment would reduce the increases to 9 accounts within the already bloated nuclear weapons budget that the National Nuclear Security Administration has not requested.

WAND SUPPORTS: #3 Sanchez, Loretta (CA) -- Gives the Department of Defense authority to transfer funds to nuclear nonproliferation, not only to weapons activities and naval reactors. Currently, the bill language limits fund transfers to only weapons activities and naval reactors. (FAILED, by a vote of 194-227)

  • This amendment would signal to the Department of Defense that nonproliferation programs (i.e., those that prevent the spread and ensure the security of weapons-grade nuclear materials) should not be less of a priority to the Department of Defense than accounts that fund upgrades to nuclear weapons.

WAND OPPOSES: #6 Daines (MT), Cramer, Kevin (ND), Lamborn (CO), Lummis (WY) -- Strikes subsection (c) of Section 1634 of the bill which terminates in 2021 the requirement that ICBM silos remain in at least warm status. (PASSED, by a vote of 222-196)

  • This amendment would tie the hands of Presidents and prevent them from making determinations that are in the country’s best national security interest – and waste money.

WAND OPPPOSES: #17 Lamborn (CO) Blocking New START– Blocks the use of funds for implementing the New START treaty until certification that the Russian Federation is respecting Ukrainian sovereignty and is no longer violating the INF or CFE treaties. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

  • This amendment would block implementation of New START which would prevent the United States from verifying the size and composition of the Russian nuclear stockpile. The crisis in Ukraine is not a good reason to undermine New START, which makes the world safer. In fact, the treaty is now more valuable than ever because it keeps channels of communication open between the U.S. and Russia.

WAND SUPPORTS: #155  Larsen (WA) Nuclear Verification and Monitoring – Requires the creation of an inter-agency plan for verification and monitoring relating to the potential proliferation of nuclear weapons and fissile material. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

WAND SUPPORTS: #24  Blumenauer (OR) CBO Nuclear Costs Study -- Requires the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to update, on an annual basis, their report on the projected costs of U.S. nuclear forces. (PASSED, by a vote of 224-199)

  • This amendment would provide Congress with more regular updates on the costs of U.S. nuclear forces.  The CBO report (released Dec. 2013) required by a previous NDAA was an important step in transparently determining the true cost of U.S. nuclear forces.

WAND SUPPORTS: #84 Fortenberry (NE) -- Requires report as to how the Department will manage its mission related to nuclear forces, deterrence, nonproliferation, and terrorism. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

WAND SUPPORTS: # 126 Hastings (WA) – Defense Environmental Cleanup –Restores $20 million of the proposed cut to defense environmental cleanup by reducing funding for NNSA weapons activities by $20 million. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

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Amendments on Wars and Authorizing Use of Military Force

WAND supports preventing and ending wars. We think Congress should debate and decide if and when we begin war making. We support these amendments.

WAND SUPPORTS: #20 Rigell (VA) (VA) Reaffirms Congress Constitutional War Powers by clearly stating that nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize any use of military force. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

WAND SUPPORTS: #21 Schiff (CA), Garamendi (CA) AUMF End Date– Sunsets the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force effective 12 months from the date of the enactment of the bill. (FAILED, by a vote of 191-233)

WAND SUPPORTS: #119  Hank Johnson (GA) U.S. Troops in Afghanistan —Prevents the establishment of permanent U.S. military bases in Afghanistan.  (ADOPTED by voice vote)

WAND SUPPORTS #128 Gibson (NY), (NY), Garamendi (CA) No Syria & Iran AUMF -  States that nothing in the FY15 NDAA shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Syria or Iran. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

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Amendments on Women, Peace, and Security

Both of the below amendments recognize the vital role of Afghan women in advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

WAND SUPPORTS: #118 Davis (CA)  - Establishes the "Sense of Congress" on the importance of women in ensuring the future success of nation of Afghanistan. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

WAND SUPPORTS: #121 Tsongas (MA) , Keating (MA), Bustos (IL), Roby (AL) Establishes the "Sense of Congress" that women should be included in conflict resolution and a statement of United States policy that the United States supports efforts promoting the security of Afghan women and girls during the transition process and requires a Department of Defense report on efforts to support the security of Afghan women and girls. (ADOPTED by voice vote)

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Other Noteworthy Items

Military Sexual Assault

When the House Armed Services Committee debated this topic, WAND/WiLL champion, Jackie Speier (D-CA) led the effort to address this critical problem.  A key amendment offered with bipartisan support from Rep. Coffman (R-CO-6) failed on a close vote. The amendment would have removed decisions to prosecute cases of sexual assault from the chain of command from to better achieve justice for victims with a more credible and effective process. This bipartisan amendment was submitted for consideration on the floor but the amendment was not made in order – effectively disallowing consideration of this amendment.

Iran

The bill includes several “sense of Congress” provisions on Iran. These include on forward basing of U.S. forces in the Arabian Gulf, addressing “possible military dimensions” in the Iranian nuclear program, and addressing other potential areas of concern to the Congress in advance of a final deal.

  • Congress should work hand in glove with the U.S. negotiators to further, rather than undermine, the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1.

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