As the US Congress proceeds with its annual Defense appropriations NDAA process, committee markup, and brief timed-and-managed floor discussion/debate, a recent “Audit the Pentagon” briefing outside the Capitol produces approx three supporters in a photo op
May 15, 2015
Update: House Passes Defense Bill
H.R. 1735 (link)
NDAA / House Armed Services (link)
NDAA / Senate Armed Services (link)
S. 327: Audit the Pentagon Act of 2015
Introduced: Feb 2, 2015
Status: Referred to Committee on Feb 2, 2015
This bill was assigned to a congressional committee on February 2, 2015 …
Sponsor: Joe Manchin III, Senior Senator from West Virginia, Democrat
Bill Text: (See PDF)
Last Updated: Feb 2, 2015
Length: 24 pages
Prognosis: 0% chance of being enacted
Online re: NDAA
- RollCall / Senate says no to opening hearing – http://blogs.rollcall.com/hill-blotter/senators-rebuff-call-to-open-defense-bill-markup/
- Politico / Boehner calls opposition to the bill by Democratic leaders “downright shameful.” “This shouldn’t be a tough vote,” the Ohio Republican told reporters yesterday. “This vote is about whether you support our men and women in uniform.”
- ABC News / May 15, 2015 — Overall, the House bill authorizes $515 billion in spending for national defense and another $89.2 billion for the emergency war-fighting fund for a total of $604.2 billion. Another $7.7 billion is mandatory defense spending that doesn’t get authorized by Congress. That means the bill would provide the entire $611.9 billion desired by the president, but he still opposes it. Obama and Democratic lawmakers are against the measure because it ignores automatic spending caps imposed by Congress in 2011 to address federal deficits. The bill increases defense spending by padding the emergency war-fighting fund, which is not affected by the caps. Democrats argue that the GOP wants to ignore spending caps when it comes to funding the military, but wants to adhere to them when it comes to other domestic spending.
- Reason / February — The dynamic here is completely straightforward. The military wants more money. Lots of Republicans want to give the military more money, entirely apart from whether the military needs it. And the Obama administration doesn’t want restrictions on the handouts it can give to the defense industry. The military has been fretting increasingly loudly over the spending caps it’s been expected to hold to, and the White House has chimed in to help make the case.
- “This administration has been very clear, as have our military leaders, about the fact that sequestration is a bad policy,” White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said... Meanwhile, Republican defense hawks have used the Pentagon’s pleas to continue making their never-ending case for more military spending. The reliably hawkish Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for example, declared recently that “America’s national defense can no longer be held hostage to domestic political disputes totally separated from the reality of the threats we face.”
- On the contrary, it’s the military and its budgetary backers who aren’t facing up to reality, which is that military spending is already pretty generous, and the Pentagon is blowing huge amounts of money on high-tech weapons initiatives of dubious value. In addition to $51 billion in war funding that’s already allocated, President Obama’s budget requests $561 billion for defense spending, which includes the biggest baseline Pentagon budget ever. Sequestration caps for military were already loosened from initial levels in a budget deal made in 2013. And the Pentagon has managed to keep spending freely on boondoggles like the Joint Strike Fighter—a $400 billion futuristic fighter that has serious trouble with basic functionality, like flying—and a program to build new nuclear bombers and subs… This is not a picture of a fighting force that is desperately starving for cash.
A Reflection on How the Military Has Changed since 1985 / May 2015 / by W. J. Astore, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
Note: The U.S DoD ‘white’ spending budget does not fully cover off-record ‘black budget’ spending (or, to a large extent, the ‘secret security state‘ as described in a recent 2010 Washington Post “Top Secret America” series of articles), nor does it include spending for military/defense related departments/programs/agencies such as Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Energy (Nuclear Weapons/Modernization)…
The VA 2016 budget request totals $70.2 billion for discretionary and $95.3 billion for mandatory funding. The 2017 AA request includes $63.3 billion in discretionary funding for Medical Care and $104.0 billion in mandatory funding.
Cost of war include approximately 700,000 veterans in the US have been diagnosed and are being treated for PTSD… and approximately 700,000 are incarcerated in prison or jail.
Homeland Security Department 2016 budget request is $41.2 billion.
The Department of Energy 2016 request of 29.5 billion includes a National Nuclear Security Administration request of 12.6 billion. Over $8.8 billion will be for Nuclear Weapons Activities appropriation, a 7.5 percent ($667 million) increase over the FY 2015. The budget will expand the current $12 billion B61 Life Extension Program to create the world’s first nuclear “smart” bomb, and will soon begin production at existing facilities. The FY 2016 budget launches a new Life Extension Program for a nuclear warhead via a new air-launched cruise missile. Requested FY 2016 funding is $195 million, a 20-fold increase from $9 million for conceptual studies in FY 2015. The program is slated to rise to $459 million in annual appropriations by FY 2020. This nuclear weapon system is in addition to the B61 upgraded “smart” nuclear weapon designed to be delivered by fighter bombers including the F-35.
What we see upon considered review is an annual trillion dollar plus budget which has not included special ‘supplemental appropriations’ for war spending* ** and budget that avoids assessing collateral costs, opportunity costs, costs of misplaced security priorities, and domestic spending cuts with defense and security consequences.
*Since 2001, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates that Congress has approved $1.12 trillion in supplemental appropriations, 90 percent of which—$1.01 trillion—has been destined for the Department of Defense (as of 2010)
**Supplemental War Spending / Research by the Stimson Center, 2008
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