H.R. 4435 (NDAA 2015) House Rules Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON– On Monday, May 19th, a hearing in the House Rules Committee was held pertaining to H.R. 4435, (National Defense Authorization Act, 2015) as Chairman Pete Sessions began with the introduction and opening remarks. Congressman McKeon, a retiring Republican Representative of California’s 25th District, was allowed to take to the mic and lay out an overview of what would be later seen as a bill of damning numbers and even more setbacks. In his opening statement, Mr. McKeon made mention of the cost of H.R. 4435, to the tune of $521 Billion allocated for National Defense and $79 Billion for overseas contingency, consistent with the 2013 bipartisan budget agreement. Mr. McKeon noted that there were 195 amendments offered (100 by the Republican’s and 95 by Democrats) of which 154 were adopted. The N.D.A.A. was passed out of committee with a unanimous 61-0 vote. McKeon noted that the bill would increase troop pay as well as the continued war effort in Afghanistan. In an attempt to broaden the bill, it was met with a setback. The Budget Control Act and the lack of resources stand in the way of the expansions that are included into this bill. According to McKeon,

“My principle that I have tried to stick to this year, in pushing forward, is, to Save as much as we could. We were given a budget by the Secretary and the Chairman of the Joint Chief’s that cut more than we cut. What I’m hoping for next year (hopefully) we’ll do something about sequestration -Get something we can work with- better. Otherwise, next year is going to be very, VERY difficult.”

Congressman and Ranking Member Adam Smith, echoed Mr. McKeon on many of the major key points throughout his opening statements,

“…Continues to fund our troops who are still at war in Afghanistan. What I really like about this bill is that it recognizes that our challenges, right now, are primarily from terrorism and asymmetric warfare, therefore, prioritizes the Special Operations Command and also Cyber Security Threat. ” 

Although the two members echoed one another on many of the details surrounding the defense budgetary burden laid out before them, it seemed as though they were both willing to pull from one, account to save the other. Smith noted that the administration put forward a series of changes, which includes the BRAC Amendment, which would continue to close bases within the United States when the legislation hits the chamber floor. They have also made reduction in certain compensation, as well as lay up 11 ships and discontinue the A-10 Warthog as well as rearrange the National Guard and Reserve issues.

“…for the most part, they got rid of those changes and found the money, creatively, for 2015. The problem is, it creates a bow wave. 2016/2017, we’re not going to be able to do that.

By “creatively” one only has to listen a few more seconds on the hearing to understand exactly what is about to happen. As Smith put it,

“The problem with that is, it creates a bow wave”

Yet again, we are patching a hole in the side of the ship, with cotton balls. If it is unsustainable and you can identify this, well before the implementation, why are we even considering the option? Smith also suggested if we don’t like the cuts made by the administration, we’re going to have to put up alternatives and its worth noting that the administration asked for an additional $28 Billion that they didn’t get. Offering up two amendments, BRAC and an amendment to lay up 11 cruisers and 3 amphibious ships, Smith suggested,

 “If we want eleven carriers, we’ve gotta save money somewhere.” 

All of this on the heels of the President making an impromptu visit to Afghanistan on Sunday evening. He stopped by Bagram Air Field with a “mission” to thank the members of the Armed Services deployed in support of the operations of the ongoing war effort in Afghanistan. As the debate heats up over the budget and over the implementation of one of the most despicable legislation’s in modern history, just short  of The Enabling Act, passed by Hitler in 1933 followed by the Reichstag Fire Decree, so goes the N.D.A.A.  These bills were passed in Germany with little to no resistance and virtually no public outcry. History has a weird way of repeating itself. Zen will stay on top of this story as it develops and you will be the first to receive notification of any and all changes that take place. Until then, keep your head up and your heart open. We haven’t lost this battle just yet.

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