June 18, 2015

Hirono: NDAA Does Not Responsibly End Sequester

One Year Fix Hurts Our National Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Senator Mazie K. Hirono today voted to oppose the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). She joined Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Senator Jack Reed and colleagues in pushing for a responsible, bipartisan way to end the sequester. President Obama has issued a veto threat on this bill.

“I am proud of my amendments to the NDAA that reaffirm the importance of the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, help to address Red Hill, improve military energy use, boost the Hawaii National Guard, invest in Hawaii’s military bases and schools, improve military health care, enhance education and housing opportunities for service members’ transition to civilian life, review the capabilities and future needs to enhance the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), and assess the ballistic missile capabilities of rouge nations and the current capacity to defend Hawaii against missile threats.

“Every defense bill has challenges and tradeoffs. But this year’s NDAA raised serious questions about our national values.

“In NDAA, Republicans resorted to a budget gimmick to provide sequester relief just for the Department of Defense while leaving the full burden of sequester for domestic programs such as the FBI, State Department, Treasury, Coast Guard, Homeland Security, education, transportation, and other important priorities that contribute to our national security.

“This approach divides our country into two Americas—defense on one side and everything and everyone else on the other. I call this un-American.”

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Senator Hirono’s NDAA vote: "Senator Hirono is a great champion for Hawaii and our men and women in uniform.  She has made extraordinary contributions to our national defense as a member of the Armed Services Committee.  As someone who served, I appreciate her dedication, as well as her principled stand to oppose an irresponsible Republican budget gimmick like OCO that does a disservice to our military’s ability to plan and budget for the future.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and others have also called the use of OCO problematic:

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who is highly regarded by Democrats and Republicans, called this approach a “road to nowhere” and “managerially unsound, and also unfairly dispiriting to our force.”

General Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, said, “OCO has limits and has very strict rules that have to be followed. This might not help us. What might happen at the end of the year is we'll have a bunch of money we have to hand back because we're not able to spend it in the right places.”

General Mark Welsh, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force, said, “With modernization as one of our major concerns, this presents some problems because it's hard to start a new program with OCO. When you're looking at a one-year budget cycle, it's not guaranteed over time. There are limits to what you can spend it on, so that is the big issue with us. Modernization is a huge deal for the Air Force at this point in time.”

Admiral Cecil Haney, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, said, “When we talk about having the military operate more efficiently, we have to be able to deal with this more than just one year at a time…Without the ability to have long-term planning and the flexibility to make strategic decisions about where we take our cuts, it will raise havoc in terms of our joint military force capability at large. It's also a signal to our adversaries about how serious we are about deterrence, assurance and ensuring we have a military capability.”

Admiral Michael Rogers, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command, said, “We are a relatively young and immature organization. We are just starting to build out our capabilities and I don't have decades of investment that I can fall back on. As we're trying to build a long-term sustainment plan in a high- threat and ever-growing environment, this up-and-down, annual, incremental approach to doing business makes it very difficult for us to build a long-term sustainable plan in the face of this ever-increasing threat.”

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