6 lessons on House national security votes (actual votes are listed below):
1. Congress is willing to take modest steps to cut military spending after the overwhelming passage of the Mulvaney-Frank amendment reducing the bill by $1.1 billion. An incredible 89 Republicans supported the amendment.
2. Who sponsors a House amendment is critically important. Bi-partisanship is much more likely to produce a successful vote; even better if the amendment is offered by a Republican.
a. Example 1: Mulvaney (R-SC)-Frank (D-MA) wins 247-167; a Lee (D-CA)- Frank (D-MA) on the Defense Authorization Bill, albeit for a larger cut, loses 170-252.
b. Example 2: A McCollum (D-MN) amendment cutting military bands loses 166-250; a Kingston (R-GA) amendment cutting NASCAR sponsorship failed by a much narrower 202-216.
c. Barney Frank, on MSNBC said: “In the current climate it’s easier for me to get my people to vote with Mick [Mulvaney] than for Mick to get his people to vote with me.”
3. It also helps to have speakers from both parties making the case to demonstrate wider support for the amendment rather than the amendment’s author alone; Mulvaney, Frank and Kucinich all spoke on behalf of the Mulvaney-Frank amendment.
4. The House is not willing to cut funding for the troops in Afghanistan. That is a bridge too far. However, the House appeared ready, when considering the Defense Authorization Bill, to endorse an end to U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan in line with the President’s schedule (McGovern (D-MA)-Jones (R-NC)-Smith (D-WA)-Paul (R-TX), but the GOP leadership, fearing the amendment could pass, refused to permit the amendment to be offered.
5. But the House will vote to cut funding for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund, the Afghanistan Infrastructure fund and aid to Pakistan. These three successful votes are strong indications that once the American troops are home, there will be little appetite for aid to Afghanistan or Pakistan notwithstanding any Hillary Clinton international pledges.
6. The House is deeply in the tank for nuclear weapons, the more the better. The House adopted several amendments to block further nuclear weapons reduction on Defense Appropriations and Defense Authorization.
On July 19, the House approved the bill by a vote of 326-90. .
Some Key amendments considered:
LEVEL OF MILITARY SPENDING:
Mulvaney (R-SC) and Frank (D-MA) bi-partisan amendment #1: to cut the overall level of the bill by $1.1 billion, back to last year’s level. Amendment adopted 247-167, July 19, 2012. (A Lee (D-CA)-Frank (D-MA) amendment to the FY 2013 Defense Authorization Bill to cut $8.2 billion failed 170-252)
Lee (D-CA) amendment: to reduce the overall spending in the bill by $19.2 billion. Amendment rejected 87-326, July 19, 2012
Lee (D-CA) amendment, co-sponsored by Van Hollen (D-MD) and Smith (D-WA): to reduce the overall spending in the bill by $7.6 billion. Amendment rejected 171-243, July 19, 2012
Note: there were other amendments to cut the budget that failed.
Lee (D-CA) amendment #142: to cut $21 billion from war funding to end the U.S. involvement in the Afghanistan war safely and responsibly. The amendment would limit funding to bringing the troops home. Amendment rejected 107-312 , July 18, 2012. (A comparable Lee (D-CA), Jones (R-NC), Conyers (D-MI), Woolsey (D-CA), Welch (D-V FY 2013 Defense Authorization Bill failed 113-303)
Garamendi (D-CA) amendment: to cut $12.6 billion for the war accounts due to the “steady drawdown” of troops after the surge troops are withdraw in 2012. Amendment rejected 137-278, July 19, 2012.
Jones (R-NC) amendment: to reduce funding for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund by $412,287,000. Agreed to by voice vote July 18, 2012.
Poe (R-TX) amendments: to eliminate the entire $1.3 billion in aid to Pakistan under the coalition support fund program. Amendment withdrawn, but a second amendment to cut the account by $650 million was agreed to by voice vote, July 18, 2012.
Cohen (D-TN) amendment: to reduce the Afghanistan Infrastructure fund by $175 million. Amendment adopted 228-191, July 18, 2012.
Cicilline (D-RI amendment: to strike the $375 million in funding for the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund. Amendment rejected 149-270, July 18, 2012.
Turner (R-OH) amendment: to prohibit funds from being used to reduce the nuclear forces of the U.S. to implement the Nuclear Posture Review Implementation Study, modify the Secretary of Defense Guidance for Employment of Force, or the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan. Amendment adopted 235-178, July 19, 2012. (Similar provisions were included in the Defense Authorization Bill out of committee and amendments to overturn the provision were barred by House GOP leadership).
Berg (R-ND) amendment: to prohibit use of funds to reduce the number of the following nuclear weapons delivery vehicles of the United States: (1) Heavy bomber aircraft; (2) Air-launched cruise missiles; (3) Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines; (4) Submarine-launched ballistic missiles; and (5) Intercontinental ballistic missiles. Amendment adopted 232-183, July 19, 2012. (A similar Rehberg (R-MT)-Lummis (R-WY) amendment on the Defense Authorization Bill was adopted 238-162)
Brooks (R-AL) amendment: to prohibit funds in the bill from being used to share classified information about missile defense systems with Russia. Agreed to by voice vote, July 19, 2012.
Markey (D-MA) amendment: to reduce funding for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system by $75 million, bringing the funding level back to the President’s request. Amendment rejected 150-268, July 18, 2012 (A comparable Polis (D-CO)-Sanchez (D-CA) amendment to the FY 2013 Defense Authorization Bill failed 165-252)
Markey (D-MA) amendment: to limit the fleet of land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) to 300. Currently, the U.S. have 450 Minuteman III ICBMs in silos deployed at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; and Minot AFB, North Dakota, 150 at each site. Amendment rejected 136-283, July 18, 2012.
McCollum (D-MN) amendment #3: to cut money for military bands, a reduction of $188 million. Amendment rejected 166-250, July 28, 2012.
Kingston (R-GA) amendment #2: to cut funding for the military to advertise at NASCAR races. Amendment rejected 202-216, July 18, 2012.
Quigley (D-IL) amendment: to reduce funding for one DDG-151 Destroyer by $998 million. Amendment rejected 60-359, July 18, 2012.
Wittman (R-VA) amendment: to prohibit funds from being used to plan or implement an additional base realignment and closure (BRAC) round. Agreed to by voice vote, July 18, 2012.
King (R-IA) amendment: to prohibit funds from being used to enforce or implement Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements. Amendment rejected 182-235, July 18, 2012.
King (R-IA) amendment: to prohibit funds from being used in contravention of the Defense of Marriage Act. Amendment adopted 247-166, July 19, 2012. (The House adopted 245-171 a similar amendment to the fiscal 2013 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill in May.)
Gosar (R-AZ) amendment: to prohibit funds from being used to assist the Governments of Iran and Syria, Hezbollah, Hammas, or the Muslim Brotherhood. Agreed to by voice vote, July 19, 2012.
Coffman (R-CO) amendment: to ensure that the President’s proposal to remove two Army brigades from Europe and replace them on a rotational basis is upheld. The amendment would limit funding for the continued permanent deployment of the 170th and 172nd infantry brigades in Europe. Amendment rejected 123-292, July 19, 2012. (A comparable Coffman (R-CO)-Polis (D-CO) amendment to the FY 2013 Defense Authorization Bill was adopted 226-196).
Mulvaney (R-SC) amendment: to reduce and increase $5.6 billion in Overseas Contingency and in basic Defense accounts. The Intent of the amendment was to support the policy of moving $5.6 billion from Overseas Contingency to basic Defense. Amendment adopted 238-178, July 19, 2012.
Stearns (R-FL) amendment: to prohibit funds from being used to implement a new enrollment fee for the TRICARE for Life that did not exist as of the date of enactment of this Act. Amendment adopted 399-17, July 19, 2012
Lee (D-CA)-Schakowsky (D-IL) amendment #139: to withhold a portion of Department of Defense spending until the Pentagon is able to pass an audit. Amendment fell by a point of order.