Yet again I must report that defense appropriations legislation remains incomplete more than two months after the beginning of the new fiscal year.
The defense appropriations legislation is tied up in the current negotiations over the House and Senate budget resolutions that are to be completed by Dec. 13.
Depending on the success of that negotiation, which is ongoing as this goes to press, there could be an enormous omnibus funding bill passed in January or a continuing resolution for the rest of FY 2014 that would freeze spending at the FY 2013 levels or at some mutually agreed upon level.
Currently the Department of Defense is operating under a continuing resolution that funds the federal government at 2013 levels until Jan.15.
However, both the House and Senate will only be in session at the same time for one week in December, so time is not on the side of Congress, though they insist that they will find a solution. Based on past performance – good luck with that!
At this writing, the National Defense Authorization Act legislation has been negotiated between the two houses and is awaiting votes in both bodies.
Presuming they both pass it, we will have details for you in next month’s column.
2014 AUSA Resolutions
Meanwhile, as AUSA NEWS reported last month, the 2014 AUSA Resolutions have been completed.
The resolutions provide the framework for the Association’s legislative agenda for the coming year.
The 2014 resolutions highlight the fact that these are difficult economic times and with the federal deficit increasing to record heights, this will be an era of constrained defense spending.
The resolutions warn that Congress must not allow an erosion of benefits – particularly in health care and military retirement – which are crucial to the success of the all-volunteer force.
The resolutions also warn that sequestration, with its rigid implementation and lack of oversight is an irresponsible solution to our fiscal crisis.
The automatic, mindless cuts imposed by sequestration put the nation’s defense posture at serious risk and deprives defense leaders of the funding certainty and financial flexibility to properly structure, fund and maintain our armed forces.
AUSA, its members and the American people must ensure that our elected representatives understand that they can no longer delay the difficult decisions that will rid us of the specter of sequestration.
They must adequately and predictably fund a robust military force for the defense of the nation.
Among other actions, AUSA will work for an Army share of the defense budget of at least 28 percent and for the number of soldiers on active duty in the Army to be sufficient to support national defense strategy, Joint Force and Army mission requirements.
The 2014 AUSA Resolutions can be seen online at www.ausa.org by clicking on "Legislative Agenda" and then on "Resolutions 2014."
These resolutions will guide the Association’s efforts on the Hill during the second session of the 113th Congress.
We will be calling on you to add your voice to ours as we seek to help our great Army and its members and their families.
So, during this holiday season, the Government Affairs Directorate – Matt, Julie and I – wish you and yours a successful and safe New Year.
We ask that you remember those who serve our nation in the armed forces and especially the families of those who lost their lives or were injured, and consider how lucky we are to live in a representative democracy where political power changes peacefully.