Congressman Sanford Bishop

Representing the 2nd District of Georgia


May 15, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) opposed the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016.

“The budget caps, which Congress refuses to change, will be damaging to our national security. Today, the rubber meets the road,” said Congressman Bishop. “While the NDAA has never been perfect, the version offered by the Majority shortchanges our service members and the safety of our nation, effectively rejecting the opportunity to meet the challenges of our time, improve how our government allocates taxpayer resources, invest in the American people, and provide critical long-term certainty for our armed forces.”

But instead of giving our military and our budget certainty, Republicans are asking Congress to vote for a blatant, short-term, and irresponsible accounting gimmick amounting to tens of billions of dollars. As Defense Secretary Ash Carter testified last week, Republicans’ approach is “clearly a road to nowhere,” “managerially unsound,” and “unfairly dispiriting to our force.”

Based on the Republican Budget, the bill allocates $38 billion to the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to pay for base budget requirements, using this gimmick to claim to be complying with the Sequester Cap on Defense

  • This bill is based on the Republican Budget, adding $38 billion to OCO to pay for base budget requirements, using this gimmick to claim to be complying with the sequester cap on defense. The effect of the Republican Budget is to lift the sequester on defense (using the gimmick of OCO), while keeping in place the sequester on non-defense.
  • Specifically, the bill authorizes $496 billion in discretionary funding for the base budget for the Department of Defense and $19 billion in discretionary spending for the defense-related activities of the Department of Energy in FY 2016 – totaling $515 billion.
  • However, the bill also authorizes $89.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding in FY 2016, which is $38.3 billion more than the President’s OCO request. The bill identifies the difference of $38.3 billion in discretionary budget authority in support of base budget requirements.
  • The total funding of $604.2 billion in discretionary spending for defense in the bill is equal to the President’s request.

The White House has promised a veto on the NDAA if passed with irresponsible levels of funding for our military. A number of human rights, civil liberties, national security, and religious organizations have also urged Congress to vote no on the current NDAA bill and pass a more responsible budget for our armed forces. Those groups include: American Civil Liberties Union; Amnesty International USA; Appeal for Justice; Bill of Rights Defense Committee; The Center for Victims of Torture; The Constitution Project; Council on American-Islamic Relations; Defending Dissent Foundation; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Human Rights First; Human Rights Watch; National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; National Religious Campaign Against Torture; National Security Network; Reprieve; Win Without War.


Provisions Regarding Our Troops and Their Families

Gives the Military a Pay Raise

  • Supports the current law on military basic pay for FY 2016, which equates to a 2.3 percent increase and does not include any of the DOD proposals for decreases in basic allowance for housing.
  • Authorizes an extension of a wide array of bonuses and special and incentive pays for our men and women in uniform.

Modernization of the Military Retirement System

  • Overhauls the military retirement system to blend the current all-or-nothing annuity benefit with a matching Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), making it more reflective of a civilian 401(k) plan and offering financial benefits to individuals who do not serve at least 20 years in uniform. Under current rules, soldiers must serve at least 20 years to qualify for a pension.
  • Delays implementation of the reform until October 2017 to allow the Armed Services Committee to hear from the Department of Defense on a plan to implement and receive any necessary legislative language corrections.

End Strength

  • Authorizes the end strength for Active Duty personnel of the Armed Forces at the end of FY 2016 at 475,000 for the Army, 329,200 for the Navy, 184,000 for the Marine Corps, and 320,715 for the Air Force.

Provisions on Guantanamo

  • Extends for another year the ban on the Department of Defense transferring any Guantanamo detainee into the United States.
  • Extends for another year the ban on constructing facilities for Guantanamo detainees in the United States.
  • Repeals the current statutory authority to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the custody or control of a foreign country, and replaces it with a provision that would prohibit the use of DOD funds to make such transfers through calendar year 2016, unless the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress that numerous conditions have been satisfied, including measures to prevent re-engagement in terrorist activity and information-sharing arrangements with host countries.
  • Prohibits transfers to any country in which a previously transferred Guantanamo detainee was confirmed to have re-engaged.

Provisions on Sexual Assault in the Military

  • Standardizes the training and timeframe of the training for Special Victim’s Counsel, establishes performance measures and sets minimum experience levels of Special Victim’s Counsel and provides Special Victim’s Counsel services to civilian employees of the Department of Defense who are victims of an alleged sex-related offense.
  • Requires a strategy and policy to prevent retaliation against service members who report or intervene on behalf of the victim in instances of sexual assault and a plan to improve sexual assault prevention and response when the victim is a male member of the Armed Forces.

Provisions on Iraq and Syria

  • Authorizes $600 million for the Syria Train and Equip effort and $715 million for the Iraq Train and Equip effort. The bill requires that 25 percent of the Iraq Train and Equip assistance be provided to the Kurds and Sunnis. Further, it requires the Administration to assess progress towards political reconciliation in Iraq and, if they cannot assess adequate progress, would substantially decrease assistance provided to the Government of Iraq and increase aid provided directly to the Kurds and Sunnis.

Provisions on Ukraine

  • Authorizes $200 million for a Train and Equip effort in Ukraine and specifically allows for the disbursement of lethal equipment of a defensive nature.

Provisions on European Reassurance Initiative

  • Authorizes a total of $789 million for the European Reassurance Initiative, mainly to support U.S. deployments and training in Eastern Europe to reassure NATO allies and deter Russia.

Provisions on Afghanistan

  • Authorizes a total of $4.1 billion for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), $338 million above the President’s request, to maintain a force level of 352,000 in the ANSF.

Provisions on Jordan

  • Allows for the reimbursement of up to $300 million to the Jordanians for expenses for efforts to control their border. The bill also authorizes $300 million for the enhancement of Jordanian military capability and an additional $16.5 million for Jordanian operations.

Provisions on Acquisition Reform

  • Includes the provisions of a bill introduced by HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry and Ranking Democrat Adam Smith that is designed to reform some parts of DOD’s acquisition reform system.

Provisions on Space

  • Allows the use of Russian RD-180 engines that were fully paid for or on contract before the Russian invasion of Crimea.
  • Supports competition for reliable and affordable space launches for national security missions.

Provisions on Missile Defense

  • Authorizes approximately $10 billion for missile defense programs.
  • Maintains authorizations for the continued deployment of a national missile defense system based in Alaska and California.
  • Authorizes funding for missile defense sites in Romania and Poland.
  • Authorizes funds for planning and design of a new East Coast interceptor facility, which the Pentagon has not requested.
  • Mandates proof of concept for space-based interceptors.
  • Supports Israeli missile defense by adding over $315 million above the President’s request.

Provisions on Nuclear Weapons

  • Adds $238 million to nuclear weapons funding above the $8.85 billion budget request.
  • Requires quarterly notifications on Russian violation of intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and adds $25 million to begin development of military responses to counter Russia’s violation of this treaty.
  • Prohibits the dismantlement of nuclear weapons retired after 2009, and prohibits the dismantlement of all W84 warheads.
  • Restricts the number of personnel at the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Provisions on Nuclear Non-Proliferation

  • Requires the Director of Naval Reactors to submit a plan for developing naval reactor fuel using low-enriched uranium (LEU), rather than highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and authorizes $5 million to start initial development and testing.
  • Includes a permanent prohibition on funding for fixed portal monitors that detect radiological and nuclear weapons-usable materials at major border crossings and ports in foreign countries.
  • Restricts certain nuclear verification and detection technology R&D.

Provisions on Cyber

  • Fully resources U.S. Cyber Command programs and activities.
  • Full resources all Military Service cyber programs.
  • Directs a review of Department of Defense cyber support to civil authorities.
  • Directs the identification and assessment of cyber vulnerabilities on legacy weapons systems and mission systems.

Provisions on Special Operations, Counter-Terrorism, & Unconventional Warfare

  • Fully resources U.S. Special Operations Command activities and programs.
  • Makes permanent the authorization for the NATO Special Operations Headquarters.
  • Extends family support program authority for Special Operations Forces and their families.
  • Increases congressional oversight of sensitive operations.
  • Increases authority that allows U.S. Special Forces to partner with surrogate or indigenous forces.
  • Makes permanent authorities to provide rewards to individuals providing information or non-lethal counterterrorism assistance.
  • Directs development of a strategy to counter Unconventional Weapon threats.
  • Provides new pilot program authorities to counter enemy propaganda efforts.

Provisions on Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction

  • Fully funds and authorizes activities for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
  • Extends an authority to engage with foreign countries for incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.
  • Directs the GAO to conduct a review of assistance to state and local first responders during chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives incidents.

Provisions on Aircraft

  • Authorizes $18.6 billion for Navy aircraft and $16.0 billion for Air Force planes. Among its provisions, the bill:
    • Prohibits the retirement of A-10 Warthog aircraft as proposed by the Air Force. Authorizes $682 million in unrequested funds to keep the aircraft operating.
    • Authorizes $11.8 billion for continued development and procurement of 63 F35 aircraft, including funds for six unrequested aircraft.
    • Authorizes $3 billion for 16 Poseidon aircraft, a Boeing 737 commercial derivative that is the Navy’s next-generation, maritime, anti-surface warfare surveillance aircraft.
    • Authorizes $2.7 billion in procurement and development funds for KC-46 aerial refueling tankers for the Air Force.
    • Authorizes $1.2 billion in unrequested funds for 12 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet aircraft, the Navy’s principal fighter plane.
    • Authorizes $1.4 billion for 19 V-22 Osprey aircraft for the Marine Corps.
    • Authorizes $1.3 billion for 64 AH-64 Apache helicopters for the Army and additional funding for UH-60M Blackhawks for the Army National Guard.

Provisions on Shipbuilding

  • Authorizes $16.3 billion for major Navy vessels, $327 million (2%) less than requested. Among its provisions, the bill:
    • Authorizes $5.3 billion for construction and long-lead components for the next boats in the Virginia class of new attack submarines.
    • Authorizes $678 million for refueling complex overhaul operations for the USS George Washington nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The Navy had previously suggested that the carrier would be taken out of service because of budget reductions. The measure also authorizes $2.5 billion for construction of the next class of carrier.
    • Authorizes $1.4 billion for three Littoral (coastal) Combat Ships, a small, specialized variant of the DDG family of future surface-combat ships.
    • Authorizes $3.2 billion for the next two DDG-51 Destroyers, equal to the request.
    • Prohibits the use of funds for the inactivation or storage of Ticonderoga-class cruisers or dock landing ships in FY 2016. The Navy has sought to take 11 cruisers out of service to modernize them.

Energy-Related Provisions

  • Prohibits the Department of Defense from making bulk purchases of drop-in fuel for operational purposes, unless the cost of that drop-in fuel is cost-competitive with traditional fuel.
  • Exempts DOD from Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which prevents DOD and other federal agencies from purchasing fuels with higher lifecycle emissions than that of conventional petroleum fuels.
  • Prohibits DOD from awarding contracts for bio-fuel refineries.

Other Provisions

  • Prohibits the Department of Defense from conducting an additional round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
  • Prevents the greater sage grouse bird from being listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act for 10 years.

Administration’s Position

  • The Administration has issued a veto threat on the bill.
  • In the SAP, the Administration indicates that it objects to numerous provisions in the bill.
  • In the SAP, the Administration states, “The President has been very clear about the core principle that he will not support a budget that locks in sequestration, and he will not fix defense without fixing non-defense spending. … The use of OCO funding to circumvent budget caps in defense spending also ignores the long-term connection between national security and economic security.”
  • In the SAP, the Administration also states, “Further, the bill fails to adopt many of the needed force structure and weapons system reforms included in the President’s Budget… The President’s defense strategy depends on investing every dollar where it will have the greatest effect, which the Administration’s FY 2016 proposals will accomplish through critical reforms that divest unneeded force structure, slow growth in compensation, and reduce wasteful overhead. The Committee’s changes would constrain the ability of DOD to align military capability and force structure with the President’s defense strategy and to reduce unneeded costs.”

The House approved its version of the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 269 to 151. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration. For a full summary of the bill’s provision, please click here.