Rep. Huffman Votes Against Bloated Military Bill
WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) voted against the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (NDAA). The NDAA authorizes funding at nearly twice the level of pre-9/11 national defense spending. The Obama Administration issued a veto threat.
“This year’s defense authorization bill is deeply flawed—instead of scaling back our military spending as we wind down the longest war in our nation’s history, the bill ignores common-sense cost-savings and makes us less safe,” Congressman Huffman said. “The bill passed by the House today prevents the closure of the shameful Guantanamo Bay detention facility and mandates spending on weapons systems and bases the Pentagon says we no longer need. Bizarrely, it prohibits efforts to combat climate change and establishes ‘national security’ as the top priority for the use of public lands. We should be focusing on rebuilding America at home—not throwing money at weapons systems that the Pentagon doesn’t even want.”
Congressman Huffman opposed a number of provisions in the NDAA including:
- Extension of the ban on transferring any Guantanamo detainees into the United States.
- Authorization of $69 million for the construction of a new detention center at Guantanamo, despite the fact that the Administration is proposing that the Guantanamo facility be closed.
- Prohibition on the use of funds to implement the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty.
- A requirement that the Administration begin funding for a new East Coast missile defense ground-based interceptor site, which the Pentagon has not requested.
- A requirement that all 450 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos in America be kept in a very costly "warm" state of readiness.
Energy & Environment:
- Codifies climate change denial into law: prohibition on any defense funds for climate change research or mitigation.
- Prohibition on funds being used by the Department of Defense (DOD) to purchase or produce biofuels until certain conditions are met.
- Prohibition on entering into a contract for the planning, design, refurbishing or construction of a biofuels refinery unless authorized by law.
Overrides Recommendations of the Secretary of Defense:
- A congressional override of the base closure process (BRAC) sought by Pentagon officials.
- A congressional override of weapon systems retirements, including the U-2 spy plane and A-10 Warthog.
Huffman attempted to improve the bill by offering a bipartisan amendment with Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) that would increase accountability and simplicity in the Veterans Affairs (VA) claims process. This amendment would ensure that Congressional staff are able to act on behalf of veterans and contact brokered VA offices to make inquiries on constituents’ cases. It also clarifies that the VA is required to update congressional staff regardless of questions over jurisdiction. The amendment was passed by voice vote. However, this change was not enough to offset the deep flaws in the underlying bill.
Huffman also voted today for the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361), which ends the current bulk collection on Americans’ metadata while still protecting national security. This bill strengthens oversight and improves the accountability of our intelligence community and requires agencies to seek permission from the court to get records on a specific, case-by-case basis. Although the bill did not go far enough to end intelligence agencies’ surveillance and data collection programs, Huffman supported the legislation to improve existing law and will continue to work to enact comprehensive reforms to our current intelligence programs.