DEFENSE LEGISLATION MOVES CLOSER TO SENATE VOTE
An Analysis of Key Elements of the FY14 NDAA
Washington DC – December 17, 2013– News Release – The Senate is slated to vote on the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (FY14 NDAA) as early as tomorrow. The bill has long been considered must-pass legislation and members are working to ensure passage by the December recess.
“Between the nuclear option over Administration nominees and a fight over the number of amendments to be voted upon, this year’s NDAA has skipped ‘normal order’ and moved to conference in order to pass by the end of the year,” said John Isaacs, executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “The process has blocked Senators from introducing major amendments which has been a hallmark of the bill.”
Despite the compromises in the bill, it authorizes an estimated $32 billion more than last week’s budget plan negotiated by Budget Committee Chairs Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).
It will be up to the appropriators to write the spending bill and allow the reshaping of Pentagon spending priorities,” added Isaacs. “It won’t be normal order but it will be close.”
For an issue by issue breakdown of the FY14 NDAA before the Senate click here.
The FY14 NDAA will ask the Pentagon to dig deeper into some of the its most problematic programs. The legislation will require long-term plans for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), and the Secretary of the Army will be required to submit reports on the ground combat vehicle and the M1 Abrams Tank.
“Congressional leaders are coming to realize that Pentagon spending is coming down as the wars are coming to an end. Smart strategy has to be employed to make sure we reduce spending in the right way,” said Laicie Heeley, director of defense policy at the Center. “In future years, appropriators have to begin to reshape spending to address 21st century threats and not those of the past.”
On weapons of mass of destruction and non-proliferation, the House version of the NDAA attempted to severely limit U.S. implementation of the New START treaty and dictate future choices regarding U.S. nuclear posture and planning. The conference version of the bill eliminated or watered down most of these provisions by replacing them with reporting requirements or nonbinding Sense of Congress resolutions.
“The conference NDAA significantly walks back nuclear policy limitations in the House version that would have restricted the Pentagon’s plans to implement the New START agreement and make further reductions to the nuclear stockpile,” said Kingston Reif, director of nuclear non-proliferation at the Center. “The conference version also eliminated unrequested and excessively wasteful spending authorizations from the House bill on construction of a third national missile defense site, early procurement of long-range missile defense booster rockets, and the B61 life extension program.”
Importantly, the FY14 NDAA does not include new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
“Thankfully, congress chose to hold off on additional Iran sanctions for now rather than run the risk of derailing the recent diplomatic success with Iran,” added Heeley. “New sanctions legislation could undo the diplomatic process that has put the first meaningful constraints on Iran’s nuclear program in nearly ten years and undermine the international coalition necessary to enforce existing sanctions and keep Iran at the negotiating table.”
Finally, the FY14 NDAA also provided additional American resources for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is preparing its final plan to neutralize Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile by the June 2014 deadline. The plan will include use of the U.S. military vessel, the Cape Ray.
Heeley, Isaacs, Reif and other members of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation team are available for further comment and media inquiries by contacting James Lewis.
The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a Washington-based non-profit think tank working to reduce the number of nuclear weapons stockpiled across the globe, increase international nonproliferation programs targeted at preventing the further proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism, redirect U.S. military spending to address 21st century security threats and halt the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons. www.armscontrolcenter.org