Just when you thought the Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee (HASC) couldn’t possibly go any crazier on nuclear weapons and missile defense, it doubled down on its fanaticism during last week’s mark up of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The result is a bill that if passed into law would significantly weaken US national security.
Early in the morning of June 6th the Committee approved its version of the NDAA (H.R. 1960) by a vote of 59-2. The legislation authorizes $552.1 billion for national defense (function 050) and $85.8 billion for overseas contingency operations (largely for the war in Afghanistan), for a total of $637.9 billion. Like the President’s budget request, the Committee completely ignores sequestration.
While Committee Republicans warn that cuts to the defense budget are eroding the US military, they continue to insist on wasting millions of dollars to sustain an excessively large nuclear arsenal designed to confront Cold War threats that no longer exist. Spearheaded by Reps. Michael Turner (R-OH), Mike Rogers (R-AL), and Doug Lamborn (R-CO), the Committee’s iteration of the NDAA includes numerous profligate funding proposals and policy provisions on nuclear weapons and missile defense, such as:
- funding for a third national missile defense site on the East Coast of the United States that military leaders did not ask for and do not want;
- constraints on the Pentagon’s ability to implement New START in violation of our international obligations;
- limits on changes to US nuclear posture and further reductions below New START even if they may be in US security interests;
- money above the President’s budget request for the unrealistic and unaffordable B61 life extension program; and
- limits on the availability of funds for vital programs that reduce the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists and detect nuclear weapons tests.
The House passed defense authorization bills containing similarly flagrant constraints the previous two years, but due to opposition in the Senate, the final version of these bills either eliminated or significantly watered down the objectionable provisions. Expect the Senate to raise objections again this year, as the latest proposals once again defy national security and fiscal sense. The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to mark up its version of the defense authorization bill later this week.
The White House is likely to threaten to veto the final version of this year’s NDAA if it includes many of the provisions contained in the Committee’s legislation, especially the limitations on New START implementation and further nuclear weapons reductions.
With the full House slated to debate the NDAA this week, expect House Democrats to submit amendments challenging the Strangelovian pathology of their Republican counterparts.
Head over the Center website to read the rest of the analysis.