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house Bill H.R. 4909

Authorizing Defense Spending for Fiscal Year 2017

Argument in favor

Congress has a constitutional duty to provide for the national defense, and while this bill is a compromise it will strengthen the military at a time when threats are increasing and funding is hard to come by.

operaman's Opinion
···
05/17/2016
Wouldn't it be nice if a Defense bill actually covered defense. We have China building islands in the South China Sea, the spread of ISIS in the Middle East, Russian aggression in the Ukraine and Iran spreading terrorism worldwide. But alas, we again fine a PORK laced bill. We needs planes and ships, aid for our Vets, more trained personnel and research into modern weapons.
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BTSundra's Opinion
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05/17/2016
One of the few constitutional authorities and responsibilities of the federal government is to protect us.
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Gopin2020's Opinion
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05/18/2016
I am for this , with all combat jobs now being open to women, it only fair & equal that they register for the draft. While it would take a major conflict for a draft to be done; it hasn't been done since Vietnam , it would take a major attack possibly terrorist or similar for this to happen where a major mobilization to occur. I am for a mandatory service like Israel has where all citizens serve, too few serve today. All citizens should share in our defense if you are going to enjoy the benefits of freedom. I would grant few exemptions to people serving ; disability etc. rich and poor alike would serve no exception. 1% serving today is a disgrace, although we do have some of the best all volunteers.
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Argument opposed

Even though this bill’s authors provide for the same amount to be spent on national defense as the president’s budget proposal, it misses the mark by diverting warfighting funds to base budget programs.

SamJenkins's Opinion
···
05/17/2016
It is time to spend our money on the retooling of America rather than the policing of the world.
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BubonicClegg's Opinion
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05/18/2016
We already spend as much on our military as the next seven countries combined. "Funding" for defense isn't so hard to come by. If our military can't operate with what they're given, perhaps we need to rethink our military strategies since an egregious "defense" doesn't stop the so-called threat to us. Unless the additional funding is going toward taking care of our veterans, we need to spend less on defense
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SouthernGal's Opinion
···
05/17/2016
This bill needs to be junked. It spends money on things the DOD doesn't want, like keeping unwanted bases open, while constricting funds on actual needed boosts for our troops. The bill also continues unwarranted restrictions regarding detainees at Guantanamo Bay, would prevent the United States from fulfilling its obligations under a treaty, and includes non-germane policy riders, such as those undermining the Endangered Species Act as well as public land management statutes. In addition, the Russell amendment will legalize discrimination against women, and the LGBTQ community. If this new language becomes law, employers could: Fire an unmarried mother Fire a woman who's had premarital sex Fire an LGBTQ person because of who they love or how they identify Fire a woman for having an abortion Fire someone for using birth control The Russell Amendment would jeopardize existing non-discrimination policies that protect 28 million workers—one-fifth of the country's workforce. It would also allow religiously-affiliated organizations that receive federal grants and contracts (like hospitals and universities) to discriminate against a broad swath of our society. Congress has taken a bill that needs to be passed and turned it into a collectIon of right-wing give-mes.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed May 19th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 277 Yea / 147 Nay
      house Committees
      Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities
      Committee on Armed Services
      Tactical Air and Land Forces
      Military Personnel
      Readiness
      Seapower and Projection Forces
      Strategic Forces
    IntroducedApril 12th, 2016

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What is House Bill H.R. 4909?

This bill would authorize federal spending on national defense programs for fiscal year 2017. It proposes $610.5 billion in spending, $523.6 billion of which would go toward the Dept. of Defense’s (DOD) base budget. 

  • $58.7 billion would be set aside to fund Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) and overseas bases — $18 billion more than the president requested in his budget.
  • Another $8.3 billion in mandatory defense spending would be authorized. 
The total amount of funding authorized by this bill matches the president’s budget proposal. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA for short) is as long and complex as the U.S. military's day to day operations. Here are some of the highlights of this very very very long piece of legislation


RESOURCES

The base funding level for national defense was set by the Bipartisan Budget Agreement at $543.4 billion. This includes the DOD’s base budget and $19.5 billion to the Dept. of Energy (DOE) for servicing the military’s nuclear technologies. Of the $58.8 billion in OCO funding, $23.1 billion goes toward base funding (the president’s request was closer to $5 billion) while another $35.7 billion would go to financing military operations through April 2017.


Equipment 

This bill would expand funding for missile defense while also providing the resources to increase the number of military aircraft available back to pre-drawdown levels. A Carrier Air Wing would be restored along with an additional 11 F-35s and 14 F-18s available to address a shortage of strike fighters. Additionally, three C-130Js, four C-40s, and two V-22 aircraft would be added. Five Apache helicopters would be restored to operation along with 24 UH-60 Blackhawks, while 12 new Blackhawks would be operational.


Maintenance

To ensure that the military’s platforms are ready for use, funding for Navy Ship and Aircraft depot maintenance and afloat readiness would grow by $530 million. The Air Force’s depot maintenance program would receive $430 million in additional funding. Further, the Navy’s cruiser modernization program would receive $160 million (unfunded in the president’s request) and the Marine Corps would get $67 million for logistics.



​TROOPS & FAMILIES

This legislation reverses the military-wide personnel drawdown. 

  • Active duty Army would remain at 480,000 soldiers. 
  • The Marines would grow their ranks (by 3,000) to 185,000. 
  • The Air Force would add 4,000 of their own to reach 321,000 active duty Airmen. 
  • Personnel levels for the Air National Guard and Army Reserve would be set at 350,000 and 205,000, respectively.

Military personnel would see their pay increase by 2.1 percent and the president’s ability to reduce troop pay would be blocked. This portion of the bill also provides $2.5 billion in additional funding for training and maintenance that would let the branches of the military maximize their flight training hours, which was left unfunded in the president’s budget.


​Healthcare​

The TRICARE program which offers healthcare services to members of the military, their immediate families, and some retirees would be reformed to offer two comprehensive options — a managed care option (Tricare Prime) and a no-referral network option (Tricare Preferred). It would also adopt the core quality metrics used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, so beneficiaries can review and compare their options across organizations.

Referrals for urgent care would be eliminated and urgent care access for families would be ensured through 11:00 PM. Care at Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) primary care clinics would be extended beyond normal business hours, and public-private partnerships would be formed to increase and complement MTF services. Retirees could also purchase certain durable medical equipment at DOD cost.

The number of available appointments at MTF clinics would increase, and beneficiaries experiences would be improved by standardizing scheduling and customer service procedures. The use of telehealth and secure messaging would also be maximized.

New trauma centers would be established at military medical centers in areas with unmet patient demand, and military trauma specialists would be able to participate in partnerships allowing them to receive training by working at civilian trauma centers.


INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Syria​

The president’s request to train and equip moderate Syrian forces that are vetted would be granted, but funds would have to be disbursed through the reprogramming process to maximize congressional oversight. The Secretary of Defense would also have to certify that there are enough U.S. forces deployed to the region to support the strategy in Syria and a plan to retake and hold the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.


Guantanamo Bay​

Existing restrictions that prevent the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. would remain in effect, as would the prohibition on building or modifying U.S. facilities to house the detainees. The DOD would also be prohibited from returning the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay to Cuba.


Russia​

To confront Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere, funding for U.S. military forces in Europe would be increased to provide for increased training and exercises and the pre-positioning of an Armored Brigade Combat Team’s worth of equipment. Additional funding would also go toward intelligence and early warning capabilities, Javelin missiles, active vehicle protection systems and aircraft survivability. Funding would be shifted toward the purchase of upgraded Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

A total of $150 million would go toward providing the Ukrainian military, National Guard, and security services with training, equipment, and other assistance.


Defeating Islamic Extremists​

This section ensures that no fewer than 9,800 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan to assist local security forces. It also increases funding for providing the Iraqi Security Forces with equipment and training by $50 million more than the president’s proposal, which would be provided directly to Kurdish, Sunni, and other local forces in the fight against ISIS. One-fourth of these funds would be restricted until the DOD submits a plan to retake and hold the ISIS stronghold of Mosul.


Counterterrorism​

DOD authorities used by special operations forces (SOF) would be extended, including the Non-Conventional Assisted Recovery program which is used to rescue isolated servicemen and women and U.S. citizens. The authority used by SOF to work with indigenous or surrogate forces in support of U.S. counterterrorism goals would also be extended.


NEW TECHNOLOGIES

Access to Space​

This legislation would encourage the development of a new American engine to replace the Russian engines that NASA and private space companies currently rely on for space missions. However, it rejects the Air Force’s request to develop the engine at taxpayer expense.


​Nuclear Forces​

This section addresses the $3.7 billion backlog of deferred maintenance at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The NNSA is responsible for maintaining and modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.


REFORMS

The military’s acquisitions of new technologies would be reformed to require new weapon systems be designed with open architectures that can easily be upgraded to use new technology or counter evolving threats. Flexible funding would be provided to allow for experiments with new technology, and suppliers of all sizes would have an increased ability to compete in the process.

It’s hoped that these reforms will promote experimentation and prototyping, not only to field capability, but to learn and develop new operational concepts. The bill would give the DOD more tools to manage and approve cost, schedule, and technological risk for major acquisition programs. Reducing redundant bureaucracy is a priority for reform. For this reason, this legislation grants Milestone Decision Authority for Joint Programs to Military Services after October 1, 2019. This change also provides Congress time to ensure the military services will be held accountable and that appropriate transparency and enforcement mechanisms are in place.


​Biodefense and CWMD​

​To respond to the accidental 2015 shipment of live anthrax by the DOD to more than 50 locations, this legislation provides for corrective action to be taken in line with the findings of the investigation into the matter. The DOD, DHS, HHS, and Dept. of Agriculture would be required to collaborate on developing a National Biodefense Strategy.


Goldwater-Nichols Reforms​

This section of the bill reforms the Goldwater-Nichols Act in order to improve the accountability, integration, oversight, and strategic planning of military activities. The advisory role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) would be expanded and the CJCS term would grow from two to four years.

The U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) would be elevated to a unified command and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) would tasked with evaluating the CYBERCOM leader’s dual role as head of the National Security Agency (NSA).

The Quadrennial Defense Review would be eliminated and replaced with a new framework led by the Secretary of Defense. A Defense Strategy Commission would be established and staffed by independent security experts would be appointed by Congress and make recommendations at the beginning of a new presidential administration. Then after four years, the Secretary would issue a guidance about force structure and resource priorities after four years.


CYBER SECURITY

Cyber operations would be fully funded at a level of $6.7 billion, which is a $900 million increase from the year prior. The readiness of the Cyber Mission Forces including the 133 teams across the military services, their tools, and capabilities would be prioritized. This legislation also includes purchasing authorities that could be used to recover from a cyber attack.

Impact

Members of the U.S. military, their families, and retirees; foreign allies of the U.S. military; and the DOD or other affected federal agencies.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4909

$587.00 Billion
The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost $587 billion over the 2017-2021 period.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) introduced this bill to ensure that the U.S. can adequately defend itself and allies against global threats:

“The National Defense Authorization Act is the primary way Congress meets its most important constitutional obligation — ‘to provide for the common defense.’ It is vital that we uphold this obligation. The NDAA makes a clear statement to friends and adversaries that the U.S. will have the means to defend itself, and it reassures the men and women who serve our nation that whatever they are asked to do, they will be prepared supported fully.”

Much like it did when Congress passed the NDAA for fiscal year 2016, the White House has threatened to veto this bill should it reach President Obama's desk. The administration objected to provisions related to Guantanamo Bay, troop levels, and equipment purchases but its biggest problem with the bill is the diversion of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds to the DOD's base budget. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has publicly disagreed with that budget tactic, with the White House adding this rebuke:

"By gambling with warfighting funds, the bill risks the safety of our men and women fighting to keep America safe, undercuts stable planning and efficient use of taxpayer dollars, dispirits troops and their families, baffles our allies, and emboldens our enemies."

The House Armed Services Committee passed this legislation on a bipartisan vote of 60-2.


Of Note: It is expected that legislation requiring women to register for the military draft via the Selective Service will be considered as an amendment to the NDAA. While it is unclear whether it will be successfully attached to the NDAA, the proposal was drafted in response to the DOD lifting all gender-based restrictions on military service, thereby allowing women to serve in combat roles. Subsequently, the commandant of the Marine Corps and the Army Chief of Staff both recommended that women register for the draft if all combat jobs are open to women.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet)

AKA

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017

Official Title

To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2017 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.

    Wouldn't it be nice if a Defense bill actually covered defense. We have China building islands in the South China Sea, the spread of ISIS in the Middle East, Russian aggression in the Ukraine and Iran spreading terrorism worldwide. But alas, we again fine a PORK laced bill. We needs planes and ships, aid for our Vets, more trained personnel and research into modern weapons.
    Like (32)
    Follow
    Share
    It is time to spend our money on the retooling of America rather than the policing of the world.
    Like (69)
    Follow
    Share
    We already spend as much on our military as the next seven countries combined. "Funding" for defense isn't so hard to come by. If our military can't operate with what they're given, perhaps we need to rethink our military strategies since an egregious "defense" doesn't stop the so-called threat to us. Unless the additional funding is going toward taking care of our veterans, we need to spend less on defense
    Like (41)
    Follow
    Share
    One of the few constitutional authorities and responsibilities of the federal government is to protect us.
    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
    This bill needs to be junked. It spends money on things the DOD doesn't want, like keeping unwanted bases open, while constricting funds on actual needed boosts for our troops. The bill also continues unwarranted restrictions regarding detainees at Guantanamo Bay, would prevent the United States from fulfilling its obligations under a treaty, and includes non-germane policy riders, such as those undermining the Endangered Species Act as well as public land management statutes. In addition, the Russell amendment will legalize discrimination against women, and the LGBTQ community. If this new language becomes law, employers could: Fire an unmarried mother Fire a woman who's had premarital sex Fire an LGBTQ person because of who they love or how they identify Fire a woman for having an abortion Fire someone for using birth control The Russell Amendment would jeopardize existing non-discrimination policies that protect 28 million workers—one-fifth of the country's workforce. It would also allow religiously-affiliated organizations that receive federal grants and contracts (like hospitals and universities) to discriminate against a broad swath of our society. Congress has taken a bill that needs to be passed and turned it into a collectIon of right-wing give-mes.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    I am for this , with all combat jobs now being open to women, it only fair & equal that they register for the draft. While it would take a major conflict for a draft to be done; it hasn't been done since Vietnam , it would take a major attack possibly terrorist or similar for this to happen where a major mobilization to occur. I am for a mandatory service like Israel has where all citizens serve, too few serve today. All citizens should share in our defense if you are going to enjoy the benefits of freedom. I would grant few exemptions to people serving ; disability etc. rich and poor alike would serve no exception. 1% serving today is a disgrace, although we do have some of the best all volunteers.
    Like (8)
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    I would like to see a portion of this money be appropriated toward improving the infrastructure of the Army National Guard. During my six years in the ARNG I was always in a state of suspended disbelief over the condition of our Armory's. When I was on Active Duty with both the Marine Corps and the Army, I never seen such a state of disrepair as what I did when I was in the ARNG. My Armory in particular would go for periods of time with no heating and cooling, or when it would rain heavily and the basement would often flood, then there was that time when the roof needed repairs and we literally had asbestos falling from the ceiling. This problem wasn't just endemic to our Armory, as it was with all the Armory's I ever visited. The same could be said with the Joint Maneuver Training Center's that we trained in for both our weekend and Annual Training's. I won't even bring up the conditions of the Joint Forces Training Center we underwent our Pre-Mobilization training in for four months before our deployment. Suffice to say though, we had it better in Afghanistan at our little Combat Outpost than we did there. We were an Infantry Battalion, so we were used to going without and making due with what we did have. When we did train we were always out in the field, either under a blazing hot sun in the summer, or the frigid snows of winter, regardless if we were sleeping in the rain or in the mud, there was still the expectation that when he maneuvered back to the barracks, that the showers would work, the toilets would flush and the food would always be hot.
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    It'll take years to repair the damage that the Obama administration has done... The military will need funding and this is all we can do under an administration that doesn't care about defense.
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    I don't support money that will fund neo-imperialist practices.
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    I'm tired of my taxes being spent on wars when this country is crumbling to pieces, education isn't being funded and you can no longer raise a family on one income. That money should be invested in the future of this country and not be cast into the bottomless pit of our military.
    Like (5)
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    We seriously need, at this time in USA history, to RE-BUILD our MILITARY. We must protect our children's lives, their future, from those who openly swear to kill and destroy all of America!
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    This is wayyyy too much to spend on killing people when we have such rampant problems here. Nation building starts at home.
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    We need to focus on domestic issues before we spend this much on military.
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    The United States needs to take a more non-interventionist role in global affairs. We need to begin a withdraw of military forces from foreign countries, stop funding international groups, and instead focus our resources on homeland defense. It's called the Department of Defense, not the Department of War.
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    All over this country people are starving, sick people can't afford their medicine, and high school grads can barely read. Without this type of military spending we might be the great nation we claim to be.
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    As long as we spend billions--even trillions--on war, weapons, and equipment to reinforce the American Empire, the more the international community, and even the American people, will lose confidence that the American government has peace as its goal. As long as we spend billions--even trillions--on war, weapons, and equipment to reinforce the American Empire, the more it becomes clear that we care more about enriching the pockets of defense contractors than the desperately poor in this country who need welfare programs, free college education, and single-payer healthcare. Voting down this pocket-liner budget is the truly humanitarian and Christian thing to do.
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    There is a lot of waste in this bill, and an easy $20 billion could be siphoned off to education and change the country forever in a positive way.
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    Stop funding war. Promote peace, education, prosperity...
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    Defense is our nations strongest attribute, it should remain that way.
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    Stop taking pay and benefits from troops to pay for pet projects and social experiments.
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