House Military Authorization Bill to be Debated Next Week
By Matt Southworth on 05/09/2012 @ 12:10 AM
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a bill that has been passed by Congress every year for over 50 years. Most authorization bills are taken up once every two to five years, but Congress has a special affinity for the military authorization bill—often calling it a “must-pass” bill. This year will be no different.
Last year, the fiscal year (FY) 2012 NDAA became synonymous with indefinite detention due to provisions included that allow for detention of U.S. citizens by the U.S. military. President Obama signed the NDAA on December 31, 2011, after it was passed by both chambers. Often forgotten, however, are some of the other momentum-building votes on amendments to the FY2012 NDAA.
In May 2011 when the bill was debated in the House, Reps Jim McGovern (MA) and Walter Jones (NC) offered an amendment calling on the Obama administration to give Congress a plan for leaving Afghanistan. The amendment narrowly failed by a vote of 204-215 and has become an anchor of anti-war Afghanistan work. Rep. Barbara Lee (CA) offered an amendment to prohibit the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq and Afghanistan which passed by voice vote. Rep. John Conyers (MI) offered an amendment that prohibited the deployment of U.S. ground troops in Libya that passed 416-5. In the Senate in November, Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR) offered an amendment to hasten the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that passed by voice vote as well.
This year on the FY2013 NDAA, we expect to see important votes on Afghanistan, Iran, detention and military trials, military funding (keeping military sequestration on the table) and nuclear weapons issues. It is likely that some hundred or more amendments will be offered and considered. You can keep track of amendments we’re watching here. Expect to hear from us about Afghanistan-related amendments over the next 10 days.
In a Congress where bills we support are introduced and then referred to committees that will never push them to the House or Senate floors, the NDAA has become an important bill for anti-war efforts. This requires a balance of principle and practicality, though. FCNL does not support the authorization of military funds—especially while we are seeing other legislative efforts to undermine human needs spending. This does not mean we cannot support these important initiatives by bipartisan Congressional allies to cut the military budget, end the war in Afghanistan, prevent war with Iran and reduce the U.S. nuclear stockpile.