Washington D.C. – Ranking Member Smith released the following statement about the Chairman’s mark for the FY17 NDAA:
“The approach to funding that has been adopted in the Chairman’s mark is incredibly problematic. First, it cuts funding for Overseas Contingency Operations so that we will run out of money for them halfway through the year, while we still have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, an approach that puts our forces on the road to a fiscal cliff.
Second, by prohibiting the military from adopting numerous measures that would allow it to save money, most notably a BRAC and reductions in force posture, we put the military in a terrible position. That fiscal cliff could arrive during a year when sequestration is kicking back in, raising the possibility of extremely drastic cuts in a very short timeframe. This strategy is essentially based on hope. They are hoping more money will magically appear to solve this problem—and hope is not a strategy. Because the Republican caucus doesn’t seem to have any appetite to lift the sequestration budget caps that originally created this problem, this plan will paint the Defense Department into a very small corner indeed.
That said, the NDAA is a very important bill that provides funding for essential defense priorities including support for military families. I want to support this bill if it is what is best for our men and women in uniform. But I am dissatisfied with its approach to funding and I am still undecided. Even a bill that has passed Congress with such consistency for so many years can reach a point where the bad outweighs the good, and I will be weighing that balance carefully as we shape it in mark-up, on the floor, and in conference.”