Final Action on House National Defense Authorization Act Guided Democracy Putin-Style

By John IsaacsGOP chart

Today, the House approved the Fiscal Year 2016 defense authorization bill 269 to 151. Many Democrats and some Republicans voted no for a variety of reasons, most particularly because of the use of the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget as a slush fund to get around the budget caps enacted by Congress.

The Republican leadership released the chart to the left, a smokescreen to pretend that this bill simply approved is the same amount as the Administration request, ignoring the $38 billion sleight of hand shoved into the OCO account, which is not subject to the budget caps. Yes, both bills authorized $612 billion — but in very different ways.

While the Rules Committee and Chairman bragged how generous the Republican leadership has been to permit 135 amendments to be considered sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, most provisions were fairly non-controversial and many only called for reports.

As Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) protested yesterday, more than 60% of the 355 amendments submitted to the Rules Committee were discarded.

The “extensive” debate on amendments covered only about five hours, from 4:24 P.M. to 9:27 P.M. May 15.

Republicans refused to allow votes on base closings, amendments critical of an East Coast missile defense, an authorization to use force in the Middle East (AUMF), Afghanistan or even the A-10 warthog.

But they were happy to permit consideration of (and pass) an amendment to ensure that the lesser prairie chicken and the American burying beetle are not considered endangered. (Sorry chicken and beetle.)

Most of the amendments permitted were wrapped into eight en bloc relatively uncontroversial groups of amendments. All of ten minutes of debate was permitted on each amendment that came up separately. McGovern added yesterday: “That’s no way to treat debate of significant issues regarding our national security” that are not “given the time, attention and debate that they deserve.

Rather than openness, House Republicans have provided guided democracy in the style of Russian President Putin: give the opposition a few crumbs but keep them under tight control.

Some key amendments

Rejected 60-363 Aircraft carriers – Floor amendment #2: Polis (D-Colo.) No. 201 reducing from 11 to 10 the statutory requirement for the number of operational carriers that the U.S. Navy must have. [Council for a Livable World supports]

Approved 235-182 New START – Floor amendment #27 – Lamborn (R-Colo.) No. 312 barring funds to implement the New START nuclear reductions treaty until the Russians leave Ukraine alone, stops cheating on the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and other conditions. [Council for a Livable World opposes]

Approved by voice vote Russia – Floor amendment #28 – Turner (R-Ohio) No. 106 limiting U.S. and Russian military-to-military engagement until Russia stops interfering in Ukraine, adheres to the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty and other conditions. Council for a Livable World opposes]

Rejected 43-375 Paying for submarines – Floor amendment #32 – Blumenauer (D-Ore.) No. 246 requiring funding for new strategic nuclear submarines to come from traditional Navy accounts, not a special Sea-Based Deterrent Fund that is being used because the Navy cannot afford the new subs and transfers money from the special fund back to the Navy accounts. [Council for a Livable World supports]

Approved by voice vote OCO – Floor amendment #33 – Mulvaney (R-S.C.)-Van Hollen (D-Md.) No. 271requiring a Government Accountability Office report on how money spent on the OCO has been used in the past. [Council for a Livable World supports]

Approved by voice vote  ICBM’s – Floor amendment #35 –  Loomis (R-Wyo.) and others No. 210 prohibiting the reduction of the alert posture of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) force. [Council for a Livable World opposes]

Rejected 178-242  ;Nuclear weapons dismantlement – Floor amendment #41 – Nadler (D-N.Y.) No. 272striking section 3121, which places limits on funding for dismantlement of nuclear weapons. [Council for a Livable World supports]

Approved by voice vote  Pentagon audits – Floor amendment #83 – Burgess (R-Texas)-Schakowsky (D-Ill.)-Lee (D-Calif.) No. 8 requiring a report ranking all military departments and Defense Agencies on achieving auditable financial statements. Council for a Livable World supports]

Approved by voice vote  Iran – Floor amendment #101 – Lamborn (R-Colo.) No 291 limiting military-to-military exchanges and contacts with Iran until certain conditions are met. [Council for a Livable World opposes]

Approved by voice vote  Iran – Floor amendment #103 – Ellison (D-Minn.) No. 266 stating that nothing in the act authorizes the use of military force against Iran. [Council for a Livable World supports]

Approved by voice vote  Cruise missiles – Floor amendment #120 – Quigley (D-Ill.)-Blumenauer (D-Ore.)-Polis (D-Colo.) No. 289 requiring a Pentagon report on plans, cost and strategy to increase the number of nuclear-armed cruise missiles known as Long Range Standoff Weapons. [Council for a Livable World supports]

Approved by voice vote  Space based missile defense – Floor amendment #122 – Foster (D-Ill.) No. 129 requiring the Director of the Missile Defense Agency to submit to Congress “estimates of the appropriate identifiable costs of each such potential program of record” for a space-based ballistic intercept and defeat layer. [Council for a Livable World supports]

Approved by voice vote  East Coast Missile Defense – Floor amendment #123 – Turner (R-Ill.)-Keating (D-Mass.) amendment No. 260 requiring the Missile Defense Agency to tell Congress its preferred location of an East Coast missile defense within 30 days of the publishing of the draft environmental impact statement. Council for a Livable World opposes]

Approved by voice vote  New ICBM’s – Floor amendment #124 – Quigley (D-Ill.) No. 288 requiring a Pentagon report on the costs of extending the life of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) force versus building a new missile. [Council for a Livable World supports]

AMENDMENT NOT PERMITTED BY HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE

NUCLEAR WEAPONS AMENDMENTS

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Polis (D-Colo.) amendment No. 248 reducing that amount authorized for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Weapons Account to the amount in the Administration’s budget request, a reduction of $237.7 million. [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Blumenauer (D-Ore.)-Polis (D-Colo.) amendment No. 247 requiring the Congressional Budget Office to prepare 25-year cost estimates for the U.S. nuclear modernization program. Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Garamendi (D-Calif.) amendment No. 38 requiring an Administration report on a nuclear dyad or monad compared to the present nuclear triad (submarines, bombers, ICBMs). [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Garamendi (D-Calif.) amendment No.39 requiring an Administration report on the requirements and rationale associated with pursuing a plutonium strategy that achieves a pit production capacity of 50-80 pits per year. [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Sanchez (D-Calif.) amendment No 118 requiring a Government Accountability Office report on how the committee-approved provision barring spending $50 million on dismantlement of nuclear weapons will impact U.S. dismantlement plans. [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Garamendi (D-Calif.) amendment No. 346 requiring a Pentagon report on the deployment of the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb.

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Garamendi (D-Calif.) amendment No. 347 requiring a Pentagon report on the Long-Range Standoff bomber.

NON-PROLIFERATION AMENDMENTS

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Fortenberry (R-Neb.) amendment No. 138 striking a prohibition in the bill on spending money on fixed portal monitors for detecting nuclear weapons-grade and radiological material at major border crossings and ports in foreign countries. [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Fortenberry (R-Neb.) amendment No. 251 permitting money slated for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication facility (MOX) to be used for other purposes and urging the Secretary of Energy to consider affordable options for addressing excess plutonium. [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Cooper (D-Tenn.) amendment No. 162 striking section 3120, restricting spending on certain nuclear nonproliferation or arms control verification technologies beyond what is required for New START. [Council for a Livable World supports]

MISSILE DEFENSE AMENDMENTS

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Foster (D-Ill.)-Nadler (D-N.Y.) amendment No. 128 requiring the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to certify that there is a military or operational requirement for the East Coast Missile Defense Site and the Pentagon submits a report required last year on the system before funds may be spent on such a site. [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Foster (D-Ill.)-Nadler (D-N.Y.) amendment No. 130 requiring the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to certify there is a military or operational requirement for the East Coast Missile Defense Site. [Council for a Livable World supports]

MILITARY SPENDING, OCO AND CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS-RELATED AMENDMENTS

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Sanford (R-S.C.) amendment No. 122 requiring expenditures for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) to be war related rather to be used as a loosely defined slush fund.

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Ellison (D-Minn.) amendent No. 264 barring buying additional Littoral Combat Ships unless the Secretary of the Navy certifies that additional ships will meet new combat specifications recommended by Small Surface Task Force. Council for a Livable World supports]

AFGHANISTAN AND AUTHORIZATION OF THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE (AUMF) AMENDMENTS

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Sanford (R-S.C) amendment No.121 inserting the President’s Authorization of the use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIL into the bill, with a three year time limit and repeal of the 2002 AUMF.

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Schiff (D-Calif.) amendment No. 230 providing an AUMF against ISIL, but restricting the use of ground forces while sunsetting the authority after three years and terminating the 2001 and 2002 AUMF’s.  [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  McGovern (D-Mass.)-Jones (R-N.C.) amendment No.22 requiring the President to determine and inform Congress by March 31, 2016, for what purpose and for how long U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan; and for Congress to vote on that determination 30 days afterwards. [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Lee (D-Calif.) amendments No. 199 and 200 repealing the 2002 and 2001 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) respectively. [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Lewis (D-Ga.) amendment No. 9 requiring a report on the costs cost of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Council for a Livable World supports]

BRAC AND OTHER ISSUES

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Smith (D-Wash.) amendment No. 62 authorizing a new round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in 2017.  [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Speier (D-Calif.) amendment No. 12 improving whistleblower procedures. [Council for a Livable World supports]

GOP REFUSE TO ALLOW TO BE DEBATED:  Franks (R-Ariz.) amendment No. 18 establishing requirements for any nuclear program deal with Iran. [Council for a Livable World opposes]