The House Armed Services Committee will write its version of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) tomorrow. For those of you keeping score at home, here’s what we know so far: The bill completely ignores sequestration, includes nearly half a billion dollars for nuclear weapons and missile defense programs the Pentagon did not ask for, and blocks funding to implement the New START treaty.
Expect Republicans to offer more amendments along these lines – and Democrats to counter, at tomorrow’s full Committee mark. Nearly all of the amendments offered and debated will rise or fall on party line votes.
The biggest attention grabber will be the debate over building a third US national missile defense site on the East Coast. HASC Chairman Buck McKeon’s (R-CA) mark of the NDAA includes an additional $247 million for the ground based midcourse defense system above the budget request. Apparently Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) will offer an amendment(s?) during the full Committee mark that allows some (or all?) of this money to be used to fund an East Coast site.
For more on the folly of the East Coast gambit, you can read my take published in Time today. Here’s an excerpt:
Rushing to build a national missile defense site on the East Coast was a bad idea last year. It remains a bad idea now.
At a recent congressional hearing, Vice Admiral James Syring, the head of the Pentagon agency responsible for missile defense, was asked point-blank if Republican proposals to add $250 million for an East Coast site this year would be of use. “Not at this time,” he responded. The Pentagon has just begun studies on the idea, which will take two or three years to complete.
This is not just a case of “buy before you fly.” Rather, it’s a case of “buy before you study before you fly.”