Congresswoman Duckworth Provisions Cutting Waste and Standing Up for Service Members Pass House

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–May 15, 2015.  Today, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) voted for the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House of Representatives. This legislation sets our nation’s defense policy and ensures that our Servicemembers have the tools they need to defend our nation. The bill authorizes $604.2 billion in discretionary spending for defense, which is equal to the President’s request.

“The NDAA is an opportunity for members on both sides of the aisle to come together to improve our nation’s security and stand up for our Servicemembers,” said Duckworth. “I was proud to include many bipartisan provisions that save tax payer dollars, keep America safe and advocate for our men and women in uniform. While flawed, this legislation meets the essential demands of our military at a time when our nation is engaged in a critical conflict against ISIS. That is why I voted for it.”

“I am disappointed that several provisions in this bill are less than perfect. The NDAA limits the use of alternative fuels even though their use would save taxpayer dollars, reduce our military’s dependence on foreign oil and keep American troops safe as a result. This legislation limits the ability of the Administration to finally close Guantanamo. It unjustly denies DREAMers the opportunity to serve our military, even though America is the only country they have ever truly called home.”

“Importantly, we have yet to deal with the damage of sequestration and the majority continues to rely on budget gimmicks to fund our military. The NDAA relies on sneaking $38 billion into the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account to get around the repercussions from sequester cuts. OCO funds are supposed to be used for war operations and their use in the legislation misleads the American people and fails to budget for a long term strategy to meet our nation’s defense goals. I have long been an advocate of providing accountability to our budget process and spoken out against using OCO as a slush fund. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this crucial issue.”

Duckworth, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, successfully advocated for several key legislative provisions in the NDAA. Working with Republicans and Democrats alike on the Committee, 13 of Duckworth’s proposals that directly address concerns of our troops, keep America safe, and reduce waste in military spending were accepted into the final legislation. They include:

Effective DoD Contract Services Oversight:

The Department of Defense (DoD) currently spends more on service-based contracts ($161 billion in FY 13) than on military or civilian personnel.  Despite a Congressional mandate, DoD has not yet implemented an effective inventory of contracts for services (ICS) program to accurately capture the true cost of DoD contractors.  Without this kind of data, DoD cannot effectively budget, determine the true extent of their workforce, or properly allocate resources. 

Duckworth’s proposal will ensure the department establishes  a workforce management system that will accurately capture the necessary data to provide better insights for the department so they can make more informed budgetary decisions.

Inspector General Review of Revolving Door:

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of instances of revolving-door violations where former senior government officials use their position for unfair gain in the private sector once they leave government service.  Despite past Departmental efforts to get better clarity on the number of Flag officers (Generals and Admirals) and senior DoD officials who leave to the private sector, DoD still doesn’t have a clear understanding of how many have left for employment with contractors they worked with during their service. Currently, there is not a clear picture of how many are in violation of ethics requirements and revolving door laws.

Duckworth’s proposal would require an Inspector General (IG) review to examine DoD’s compliance with ethics rules involving these senior officials.

Army Arsenals

Rep. Duckworth has noted that DoD has several key single points of failure for obsolete weapons systems and that we are purchasing key components overseas such as ball bearings from China.  These are the very items that our arsenals were designed to manufacture and our depots were designed to fabricate, overhaul and maintain.  Duckworth’s amendment would require the DoD to submit a report that would identify all items critical for building our most sensitive weapon systems that are produced and sourced from overseas and to provide a roadmap for bringing that workload back to the States. Implementation of this provision would bring workload back to the U.S. from foreign sources without impinging on any domestic manufacturing source.  It would improve efficiency of the nation’s depots and arsenals, while enhancing our nation’s readiness and reducing reliance on foreign sources.

Army and DoD Cyber GAO Report

A 2012 GAO report highlighted gaps in the Department of Defense’s plans and guidance for assisting State and local civil authorities in the event of a domestic cyber incident, particularly on critical infrastructure.  Among the challenges the Department of Defense continues to face are determining the scope of the potential cyber support it may be requested to provide in the event of an attack, and the appropriate  involvement of Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve  cyber forces to meet  civil support needs . 

This provision will require GAO to assess DoD’s plans and actions for providing support to state and local authorities in the event of a domestic cyber incident focusing on the unique capabilities that National Guardsmen and Reservist bring to emergency situations 

Protecting Military Families from Predatory Lending

Duckworth’s amendment striking language delaying protections for Service Membersfrom predatory lending passed the Armed Services Committee 32-30. In 2013, Duckworth sent a letter with 53 of her colleagues to the Department of Defense calling for increased protections for members of the military from high cost loans. Last year, in response, DoD proposed a rule to extend Military Lending Act protections to all forms of credit targeting members of the military. Without Duckworth’s amendment, the NDAA would have unnecessarily delayed the rule change for as long as a year. Last fall, Duckworth published an op-ed detailing the importance of this issue.

Small Businesses

Rep. Duckworth proposed four amendments with former Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) to the NDAA that will help make it easier for small businesses to compete for government contracts. These proposals will provide greater accountability for senior agency executives who are responsible for overseeing small business subcontracting, remove barriers to capital for small businesses,  improve training for small business advocates and allow more small businesses to compete for federal construction contracts. These amendments all passed the Armed Services Committee unanimously.

You can watch Representative Duckworth advocate for many of these provisions on her YouTube channel.