Afghanistan

What we’re watching in this year’s NDAA

UPDATE: The amendments crossed out below were not allowed to come to the floor for a vote.

The House will start voting tomorrow on the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets policy and spending levels for the Pentagon and nuclear weapons programs. Since this is one of the only bills that comes to the floor on these issues, it’s a big opportunity to address peace priorities. Nearly three hundred amendments were filed, addressing everything from sexual assault in the military to immigration to same-sex marriage.

Thousands of you have already contacted your representatives urging them to vote to cut wasteful spending. We are working closely with allies in the peace and security community and Congress to advance our agenda. We’re watching the proposed amendments closely, and sending representatives recommendations. We’re still waiting to hear what amendments will be allowed on the floor, but here are a few highlights of the amendments we’ll be watching:

THE BUDGET

  • Audit the Pentagon The government’s largest agency can’t even pass an audit. Reps. Lee, Burgess and Schakowsky have an amendment that decreases DOD funding by 0.5% (excluding personnel and health program accounts) unless financial statements from the previous year are certified as auditable and meeting generally accepted accounting principles
  • Removing troops from Europe It’s a waste of money to keep tens of thousands of troops in Europe. This bipartisan amendment would bring some of them home.
  • Cutting the missile defense boondoggle Reduces funding by $107 million for advanced procurement for major equipment for the Missile Defense Agency; reduces funding by $140.4 million for ballistic missile defense mid-course segment
  • Scaling back the Pentagon budget The budget being considered is $52 billion above the sequester caps that Congress passed into law and proceeded to ignore. Rep. Nolan’s amendment would cut the budget by 9.4%.

NUCLEAR WEAPONS

  • Bomb worth its weight in gold The Life Extension Program for the B61 nuclear bomb keeps growing in cost; it’s now estimated at $10 billion. That huge amount of money is to refurbish weapons stationed in Europe, when many in NATO countries don’t even want them there. This amendment holds funding the program pending a report on NATO’s role in basing and funding the program.

COUNTERTERRORISM

  • Undoing indefinite detention Reps. Smith and Gibson are offering this amendment to change troubling provisions that allow indefinite military detention of any person detained in the US, its territories or possessions.
  • Closing Guantanamo Rep. Adam Smith’s amendment provides a framework to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by December 31, 2014.
  • Repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) The AUMF has been used by the administration to justify targeted killings of suspected terrorists around the globe. There are two amendments offered that would sunset the AUMF at the end of next year, following the scheduled end of the war in Afghanistan.

AFGHANISTAN

  • Support for withdrawal from Afghanistan Last year, Republicans blocked a vote on an amendment supporting an end to the war in Afghanistan, convinced that it would pass. Reps. McGovern, Jones, Smith and Garamendi have teamed up again to bring this up for a vote.

IRAN

SYRIA

  • Caution in arming the Syrian opposition There’s been a lot of talk lately about the dangerous proposition of arming opposition fighters in Afghanistan, despite security and human rights concerns. This amendment prohibits the use of funds from assisting the armed combatants in Syria without prior authorization by Congress.
  • No ground troops in Syria This amendment prevents funds from being used to deploy, establish, or maintain the presence of troops or contractors on the ground in Syria unless the purpose is to rescue of a member of the Armed Forces from imminent danger.

Keep an eye on the blog for updates on the votes, and check your inbox Thursday morning for action alerts. You can start now by calling your representative at 877-429-0678 (toll free number provided by our colleagues at the Friends Committee on National Legislation)  with how you’d like her/him to vote on this year’s NDAA.

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