Military leaders, troops deserve blueprint for success

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 18, 2015

The purpose of the “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA) is to provide our military leaders and troops with a comprehensive outline of funding priorities for the next fiscal year. America’s service members should remain the best-trained and best-equipped fighting force in the world. NDAA helps ensure that they have the resources they need to complete their missions.
Harry Reid on NDAA: ‘A Waste of Time’
It is unfortunate that NDAA has become the subject of disagreement this year. For more than a half-century, this annual bill has been a model of bipartisan support. In the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, lawmakers were able to reach consensus despite sharp differences at the outset. When the committee’s work was done, eight Democrats joined 14 Republicans in voting for the bill, which was reported by a vote of 22 to 4.

The same cooperation, however, is lacking in the full Senate, where some Democrats are slow-walking the legislative process. Senate Democrats’ elected leader, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), even went so far as to call NDAA “a waste of time” because the President has threatened to veto it. This threat stems from Democrats’ attempt to use defense funding as a bargaining chip to send more taxpayer dollars to agencies like the Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency.

This is not the time to block the resources our military needs. As former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warned earlier this year, “The United States has not faced a more diverse and complex array of crises since the end of the Second World War.” U.S. leadership is needed now more than ever to meet extraordinary challenges, from a resurgent Russia flouting international law to the barbarism of Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East. NDAA is integral to protecting our national security interests and keeping Americans safe.
Better Value for the Taxpayer, Warfighter
Particularly noteworthy this year is the defense bill’s attention to needed reforms on behalf of both the taxpayer and warfighter. For example, NDAA would adopt $10 billion in efficiencies allowing us to improve troop capabilities. It would also add accountability to the weapons acquisition system, where cost overruns and project delays could jeopardize our nation’s technological preeminence.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In many ways, America’s future strength depends on our ability to keep the promises we make to the men and women who serve. With numerous provisions to improve the well-being of our troops and veterans, the 2016 defense bill makes major reforms to the military retirement system, expanding benefits to more service members and offering them greater value and choice.
Uniting Behind U.S. Leadership
As Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, I am pleased with NDAA’s provisions addressing the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps. The bill recognizes the importance of amphibious ships in projecting strength to America’s adversaries and allies. It also prepares for costly but necessary upgrades to our submarine fleet, which could have a major impact on our shipbuilding budget.

Bipartisan passage of NDAA would send a powerful signal that Congress is united behind U.S. leadership. The authorization of $612 billion in defense spending should not be controversial. It fulfills the President’s budget request and matches the spending level in the budget resolution passed by Congress. Our troops have already been asked to do more with less. They deserve a defense bill that takes an honest look at current challenges and puts forth practical solutions.

By Senator Roger Wicker