Long road ahead to final completion of key defense legislation

Long road ahead to final completion of key defense legislation

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The annual slog to completion of the defense authorization and appropriation legislation has begun.The House Armed Services Committee has completed its markup and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs has marked up its bill.If the House Armed Services Committee has anything to say about it, many of the proposals outlined in the president’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2015 are dead on arrival.Despite heavy lobbying from DoD officials on the proposals, committee members were not sold. Instead, it is apparent that they, too, will wait for the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission report before making any hard decisions.The Senate will soon begin its authorization and appropriations process as well.As befits the "world’s greatest deliberative body," the machinery moves much more slowly on that side of Capitol Hill.This agonizing process, unfortunately, often drags on into the fall as political maneuvering competes with the necessity of finishing the funding dance before the October beginning of the next fiscal year.That notwithstanding, based on past performance, it seems unlikely that Congress will have its funding work completed by the end of this fiscal year, but hope, as they say, springs eternal.There is a long road ahead, but AUSA will be monitoring the process closely and will make our voice heard if the issues our constituents care about are not properly addressed.In other Hill news, AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., in testimony told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that "sequestration is having a profoundly adverse effect on the defense of the nation – and it will do so well into the next decade."Sullivan said that "sequestration has set America on a path to reduced military readiness and national security. Sequestered budgets are rapidly shrinking the nation’s military forces to unprecedented and even unacceptable levels thereby creating unready forces unable to accomplish the tasks assigned by the defense strategy."All of this while the world security environment is becoming increasingly uncertain and dangerous."Sequestration has "created an atmosphere of fiscal desperation that leads to false arguments and false choices when it comes to the compensation and benefits provided to the service members and families who make up the All-Volunteer Force," Sullivan added.He also said, "Service personnel are now facing even greater uncertainties with force reduction measures and compensation adjustments."Adding, "America will remain the world’s greatest power only so long as it continues to fulfill its reciprocal obligation to the only weapon system that has never let our country down – our extraordinarily dedicated, top-quality, All-Volunteer career force."Later the same week, AUSA Vice President Lt. Gen. Jerry Sinn and 3rd Region President Mary Trier went to Capitol Hill and presented the Robert F. Cocklin Award, the region’s highest award, to Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.A great friend of the Army and a strong supporter of soldiers and their families, Miller is chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and a member of both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.During his many years in the United States Congress, Miller has proven to be a strong advocate for our men and women in uniform while serving on those important committees.Trier and Sinn made the point that sequestration is the "long pole in the tent" that is making a viable defense budget so difficult to obtain.AUSA, with your important help, will continue to hammer that message home.Help us. Get activeContact Congress to urge members to end sequestration permanently.Go to http://capwiz.com/ausa/home/ and submit AUSA’s prepared letter to Congress titled "End Sequestration Permanently."I always end the column written closest to Memorial Day with the words of General Sullivan that get to the heart of the issue of service:"Reflect on the selfless and loyal service of hundreds of thousands of soldiers each and every day – service marked with honor and courage and exemplary of our values as an Army and as Americans – and remember to thank them and pray for them." 

Long road ahead to final completion of key defense legislation

Long road ahead to final completion of key defense legislation

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