7 Positive Bipartisan Amendments Added to the House Defense Bill

Saturday, May 24, 2014
(graphic: leftandrightunite.com)

Even in an intractable, partisan Congress, Democrats and Republicans can find something to agree upon—that the Department of Defense needs to stop wasting money.

The Pentagon’s penchant for burning through billions of dollars on bad ideas has frustrated people on both sides of the aisle, which is why Democratic and Republican lawmakers managed to find common ground on several cost-saving amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2015.


Amendment 138: Stops using the Defense Department’s account that funds the Afghanistan war (known officially as Overseas Contingency Operations) as a slush fund for things that have nothing to do with the conflict.


Amendment 37: Takes a little off the top of the military’s top-heavy brass structure, which has become bloated with generals and admirals. The plan is based on former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ efficiency initiative, and calls for ditching three four-star positions and five three-star positions.


Amendment 147: Ceases investment in missile defense platforms until the Pentagon conducts tests that really show the weapons will work when it matters. The latest system, Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, has gone through five years of so-far unsuccessful tests.


Amendment 139: If rebuilding Afghanistan is a worthwhile effort (and some say it isn’t), this at least requires that the money already set aside for such projects be used before asking for more from Congress. Much of the money appropriated for reconstructing Afghanistan has yet to be spent.


Amendment 87: The Pentagon has not had a clean audit of its books in years. While Defense officials work to get the books in shape to be examined, this amendment would require progress reports on how close the Pentagon is to being ready for an audit.


Amendment 77: Lets the little guys have some of the pie. For too long defense contracting has been dominated by huge companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, and even when federal dollars are reserved for small businesses, the funds often wind up in the hands of businesses that are anything but small. This amendment seeks to increase opportunities for small businesses.


These six amendments passed by voice vote. A seventh amendment, known as Amendment 24, proposed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), went to a roll call vote, passing 224-199, with representatives from both parties supporting the amendment. This one requires the Congressional Budget Office to produce annual cost estimates for the maintenance of the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal, which runs to about $35 billion a year.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Amid Pentagon Spending Frenzy, House Passes a Few Sensible Amendments to NDAA (by Ethan Rosenkranz, Project on Government Oversight)

Amendments to Defense Bill (Project on Government Oversight) (pdf)

Is it Time to Dump Most 3- and 4-Star Generals? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Does the U.S. Have Too Many Generals and Admirals? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

U.S. Military Builds $34-Million High-Tech Operations Complex in Afghanistan…and Will Never Use It (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

USAID Road Building in Afghanistan…a Study in Waste (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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