Sen. Carper’s Statement on National Defense Authorization Act and Defense Appropriations Act

Washington – Today, Sen. Tom Carper, ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued the following statement after the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 71 to 25 and failed to proceed to consideration of the defense appropriations bill. Sen. Carper voted to approve NDAA and against the procedural vote on the defense appropriations bill.

“Today I voted to approve an important piece of legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes funding for the U.S. Department of Defense and the national security programs of the U.S. Department of Energy. The NDAA is critical to equipping and training our troops and keeping our country safe. This year’s bill authorizes some important investments in strengthening our military capabilities, providing needed support to the men and women of the Armed Forces, and enhancing our ability to counter emerging national security threats. There are also provisions in this bill that would make important reforms to our military’s compensation and retirement system, enhance our cyber security efforts, put an unequivocal prohibition on the use of torture for intelligence purposes and provide support for our allies around the world.

“These are all important provisions that I felt must become law no matter what. However, this year’s National Defense Authorization Act is not without a major flaw. The bill relies on unacceptable budget gimmickry as a means of avoiding deep cuts to defense spending under sequestration. Make no mistake, I certainly don’t support the types of deep, across-the-board cuts to both defense and domestic discretionary spending that would be imposed under sequestration, but I also don’t support shifting the burden of these cuts entirely onto domestic discretionary spending.

“Unfortunately, the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Appropriations bill also relies on this budget gimmickry but the nature of it being a spending bill also means it does not contain many of the important policy provisions that made the NDAA essential to pass. That is why I reluctantly opposed moving to consider the defense appropriations bill at this time. I want to be clear in signaling my strong concerns with the current spending caps enacted by sequestration. I do not believe that we should move forward with individual appropriations bills until we responsibly resolve the sequestration cuts across all aspects of federal spending.

“This end-around maneuver to increase our war-funding budget to avoid sequestration cuts to defense spending is intellectually dishonest and avoids the hard conversations that we need to have on all of our government’s spending priorities. I sincerely hope that today’s failed procedural vote on the defense appropriations bill, which generally enjoys broad bipartisan support, sends the strong message to our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate that we are not on a sustainable path for tackling our funding priorities. We have to have an honest conversation about resolving sequester in a balanced way that doesn’t rely on budgetary gimmicks.‎”