I’ve been here in Washington, DC since Sunday evening. One thing you immediately notice in DC these days is the number of construction cranes up and operating. I mean, the SW Waterfront and the area around Nationals Park is exploding. Even over near my bat cave there are new condominiums and structures going up. My concern is that if there are more folks moving into Washington, DC, government is expanding. And if government is expanding, then fewer construction cranes are on Main Street, and the resources for the American citizen to build their own new home is being usurped by this behemoth.
I’m here this week primarily to discuss certain policy proposals that we at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) have offered for the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Even with the expansive growth of the federal government, one would presume that in this era of massive proliferation of Islamic jihadism, our national security and defense would be a priority. The purpose of the NDAA is to set the missions and guidance, authorizations, for our Department of Defense. When those authorizations are approved, the legislation goes to the Appropriations Committee for funding. It’s a good process, and other committees on Capitol Hill should do likewise.
We recently shared with you a missive about how President Obama wants to dispatch SecDef Ash Carter to Capitol Hill to lobby against the NDAA. Obama has already stated he will veto the NDAA, unless he gets more authorization for domestic program spending — after all, he does have to provide for all those “vetted” Syrian refugees — and yes, I jest about the “vetting” thing.
So yesterday and today I’m spending time talking with Members and staffers about the NDAA on these key points:
– Reform of the weapons system procurement and acquisition process, where we waste massive amounts of taxpayer dollars. Example: the recent grounding of the F-35 combat aircraft.
– Reduction of the DoD bureaucracy and number of General and Flag officers. Example: there are more Admirals in the Navy than there are ships. Also, perhaps it’s time to consider if we really do need the Service Secretariats, i.e. Secretaries of the Army, Air Force and Navy. This is a redundant and duplicative structure.
– The necessity to properly fund the military for combat operations and also base functions, the latter being important for programs ensuring a quality of life for military family members.
– Better compensation, pay raises for our military, but a focus on our first term Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who are paid at or below the poverty level. Two years ago, a report stated that $84M of food stamps were spent in our military commissaries — unacceptable. This at a time when we have liberal progressives advocating for a “living wage,” $15 minimum wage — yeah, we want to pay greeters at Walmart better than the defenders of our liberties.
All of those four points should seem easy to accommodate, right? Well, as Coach Lee Corso says on ESPN College Football Gameday, “not so fast, my friend.”
The NDAA is sitting in conference committee, meaning it awaits resolution between the House- and Senate-passed versions — and funny enough, they are different; yeah, I know, dysfunctional huh? But remember, this document is required to authorize our military in FY 2017, which begins on 1 October 2016. The final consideration of the FY 2017 NDAA has been pushed back to the “lame duck” session of Congress — meaning, after the November election. So, our military is not sure of its guidance and direction for the upcoming fiscal year — unacceptable.
But, what REALLY had me scratching my head yesterday is one of the reasons why the FY17 NDAA is being held up. It was something I heard from several Congressional offices. And folks, you just cannot make this up. As reported by Politico:
A BIRD IN THE HAND — THE GREATER SAGE GROUSE IS ONCE AGAIN A KEY NDAA STICKING POINT: House and Senate negotiators are close to finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2017 fiscal year, but a provision involving the greater sage grouse remains a key sticking point, according to three people familiar with the negotiations. The sources told POLITICO the House provision that blocks the sage grouse from being listed as an endangered species has emerged as one of the last major items to be resolved between the House and Senate versions of the annual defense policy bill. The Senate bill doesn’t have a similar provision.
“My understanding is that there are short, chicken-like fowl problems still causing some question as to whether or not we’re going to actually get it done,” said Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. That means other major differences between the chambers — from acquisition reform to $18 billion in war funding — have essentially been resolved, although aides noted nothing is final until the whole bill is completed. Several sources said a compromise was reached on topline funding to meet in the middle between the two bills.”
A freaking bird, a doggone bird, is a sticking point in the resolution of our National Defense Authorization Act? Whether or not this chicken-like bird is listed on the endangered species act is part of our defense authorization legislation? Unfreakingbelievable! First, the Army is giving taxpayer-funded sex change operations to a convicted felon suffering from the mental condition called gender dysphoria, and now this? Now, I remember the days of the vaunted Desert Tortoise at the National Training Center in California. And some of you recall that rascal bird the red cockaded woodpecker that sealed off training areas at Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejeune, both in North Carolina. Heaven help you if during a night training exercise you ventured into a red cockaded woodpecker area — you certainly faced a greater punishment than Hillary Clinton mishandling classified information.
Folks, I like the environment, love Scuba diving and getting out on the open road on my motorcycle. But this is just over the top. We’re holding up our military over a bird? I just don’t know where this is heading, but this is not a good indicator of a federal government honoring its most important mandate, “provide for the common defense.” Maybe this is much ado about nothing, but sadly, it appears to be par for the course on Capitol Hill. However, this is something that this Obama administration, with their draconian agency called the EPA, is doing quite often. They are declaring more “species” to be endangered in order to seal off land usage — and this has greatly affected our oil and gas exploration in America.
My question is simple: how will the government regulate coyotes and other predators from eating the sage grouse?
Hillary Clinton says if we say we’re fighting the people who say they’re fighting us, we’re essentially recruiting for the people who say they’re fighting us. And now a bird is holding up our defense authorization legislation. Ladies and Gents, welcome to Bizarro world, the end result of the fundamental transformation of the United States of America.
Sorry, but I must award FUBAR recognition to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees — or certainly to the chuckleheads who are making an issue of the doggone Sage Grouse.