The following statement is from Ms. Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, on taxpayer-focused amendments regarding the H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2019.
Dear House Member:
During consideration of H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2019, we ask for your support of the following amendments that were included in the Rule. At Taxpayers for Common Sense, we believe these amendments emphasize good stewardship of the taxpayers’ dollars.
To protect taxpayers’ dollars and ensure transparent spending habits at the Pentagon, we recommend a vote in favor of the following amendments:
- Amendment #16 by Rep. Fitzpatrick directing the Secretary of Defense to implement a process to coordinate annual research requests between all services and offices under Department of Defense (DOD) in order to maximize the benefit of each request and minimize duplication, and achieve cost savings.
- Amendment #38 by Reps. Burgess, Lee (CA), Lance, DeFazio, Jones, Welch, Lewis (MN), and Schakowsky requiring a report ranking all military departments and DOD agencies in order of how advanced they are in achieving auditable financial statements.
- Amendment #209 by Rep. Yarmuth requiring the DOD to provide estimates of enduring costs funded with Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding as part of its budget submissions to Congress.
- Amendment #225 by Reps. Lee (CA), Lewis (MN), Norman, Welch and Jones instructing the Comptroller General of the United States to submit to Congress a report on how funds authorized for OCO were obligated.
- Amendment #260 by Reps. Polis and Blumenauer reducing the amount authorized for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Weapons Account to the amount in the budget request.
- Amendment #281 by Rep. Graves requiring a report on the management of military commissaries and exchanges including an analysis with the goals of reducing operating costs by $2 billion while not raising costs for patrons. We believe this amendment will give members of Congress greater transparency into the costs and management of the commissary and exchange systems.
- Amendment #300 by Rep. Aguilar to amend an annual report to include a 20-year projection of life cycle costs for nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. This amendment will allow greater information and transparency for members of Congress voting on weapon systems.
- Amendment #330 by Rep. Norman to require the Office of Management and Budget to keep separate accounts for OCO and the accounts for the DOD.
- Amendment #341 by Reps. Duncan (TN), Polis, and Jones calling for the Secretary of Defense to submit a report regarding awards and commendations presented to any military personnel for cost-saving ideas during the prior fiscal year and regarding how the Secretary plans to expand and streamline such awards programs for cost-saving ideas.
- Amendment #402 by Rep. Nolan to strike Title XV. This is the title where authority for the OCO account resides. We believe OCO has become an out-of-control slush fund with little congressional oversight. While it may be “off-budget,” it still contributes to deficit spending. Striking Title XV will allow OCO to go back to what it was originally intended: a transfer fund in the Pentagon’s base budget accounts to deal with actual contingencies.
- Amendment #506 by Reps. Schrader, Welch, Blum, Blumenauer, Norman, and F. Rooney requiring DOD to report to Congress on ways they are finding and implementing savings laid out by the 2015 Defense Business Board report and for alternative recommendations to achieve cost-savings.
Unfortunately, there are several amendments that were also included in the Rule that we believe impose improper protectionist restrictions on Pentagon decision makers. We believe that the warfighter should always be given the best equipment, no matter where it is produced. The following amendments reflect the worst type of crony capitalism and we recommend a vote against them:
- Amendment #380 by Reps. Tenney, Poliquin, Katko, Lipinski, Ryan (OH), and Jones would make stainless steel flatware subject to the Berry Amendment’s domestic sourcing requirement and provide a one year phase-in period.
- Amendment #422 by Rep. McKinley would make dinner ware subject to the Berry Amendment’s domestic sourcing requirement.
- Amendment #557 by Rep. Reed (NY) directing the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy to submit a report to Congress on any plan to relocate production of steam turbines for aircraft carriers and submarines.
If you have any questions about these issues or our positions, please contact our policy analyst Wendy Jordan at email@example.com or call 202-546-8500, extension 114.
President, Taxpayers for Common Sense