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Conference Report on National Defense Authorization Act

Floor Speech

Date: Oct. 6, 2015
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Conference
Report to Accompany H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act
for Fiscal Year 2016.

As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, I
take issue with the irresponsible manner in which this authorization
approaches funding of our National Defense. This bill uses the Overseas
Contingency Operations fund to avoid congressionally mandated budget
caps for fiscal year 2016--an approach that fails to provide the
appropriate budget and funding structure that enables the Department of
Defense to operate in the most effective and efficient manner over both
the short-term and long-term planning horizons. This is Congress' most
important role. We need to do this right.

In addition, this Conference Report prevents the responsible transfer
of detainees from Guantanamo Bay and continues the existence of a
detention facility which serves as propaganda for extremists and
undermines our moral standing in the world. Many of the detainees who
remain were cleared for transfer nearly six years ago by the Guantanamo
Review Task Force--an interagency effort that included the Departments
of Defense, Justice, State, and Homeland Security, as well as the
Director of National Intelligence. The transfer restrictions interfere
with the administration's executive role in responsibly closing this
facility, wasting valuable resources, and making us less safe. This
facility needs to be closed.

H.R. 1735 fails to heed the expert advice and request of numerous
senior leaders in the Department of Defense, Department of the Air
Force, and Department of the Army, who all repeatedly testified
regarding the problem of sustaining excess facilities. I understand
that many of my colleagues are concerned about potentially losing a
military base in their district; however, we should not force the
Defense Department to hold onto excess infrastructure and assets that
are of diminishing military value. The best way to address this problem
is to authorize a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and ensure our
military bases are operating in the smartest, most efficient and
effective manner. This bill prevents that from happening.

I recognize that passing the NDAA is described as a tradition, but
tradition is an inadequate reason to support legislation that
undermines the ability of our Defense leaders to properly manage the
largest portion of our federal budget--the portion responsible for
National Security--and effectively undermines the health and safety of
the women and men who carry out that mission.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing the
Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 1735--National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016.