Manchin Includes 17 Amendments, Chairs Airland Subcommittee in Mark-Up of Annual Defense Bill
The Senate Armed Services Committee includes 17 Manchin amendments that withhold Afghanistan infrastructure funding, address Pentagon spending and set military policy
Washington, D.C. – In a major legislative victory, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) successfully added 17 amendments to the annual Senate defense authorization bill, including an important measure that withholds $63.8 million in funding that had been allocated to build the mining industry in Afghanistan. Additional provisions address veterans’ unemployment, ensure the Department of Defense responsibly spends its allocated funds, reduce the inflated salaries of executive contractors, support the National Guard and protect our military families. The annual defense bill cleared the Senate Armed Services Committee by a vote of 23-3.
Senator Manchin included a provision that withholds $63.8 million in funding that would build the mining and energy sector of Afghanistan. The measure prohibits the military from spending these funds, unless the Secretary of Defense certifies that the Government of Afghanistan will reimburse the American taxpayer from mining, oil or gas royalties.
Senator Manchin said, “It is outrageous that the United States is building the mining sector of Afghanistan, especially because the Chinese are winning the contracts to mine the estimated $1 trillion of untapped energy and minerals. I am proud that the Armed Services Committee adopted my commonsense bill that stops other countries from freeloading off of our investments. If we want to keep the most powerful military in the world, we’ve got to stop this excessive spending. We need to start rebuilding America, not Afghanistan.”
Since joining the Senate, Senator Manchin has pushed hard to reduce the use of overpriced defense contractor executives. Although he sought to decrease the compensation limit to $230,700, which is the most government civilian employees can make in a given year, the Committee agreed to lower the compensation limit to $487,325 a year. Senator Manchin will continue to fight to rein in these salaries.
“To the people of West Virginia, it doesn’t make any sense that taxpayers are paying some contractors almost four times as much as we pay the Secretary of Defense,” Senator Manchin said. “I’m so pleased that both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee came together and agreed that it’s time to get contractor salaries back in line with what we pay our service men and women.”
Senator Manchin also filed a measure with war hero Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to make sure troops who commit serious sexual assault crimes at off-post locations can no longer serve in the military. The amendment requires the Department of Defense to conduct a study on the scope of sexual assault convictions in the military, determine the extent of potential loopholes and then report the findings to Congress.
“I am very proud to introduce an amendment with my esteemed colleague, Senator John McCain, that addresses members of the military who serve with a sexual assault conviction on their records. Our amendment takes the necessary steps to prevent sexual predators from serving in the most distinguished military in the world,” Senator Manchin said.
The Senate Armed Services Committee’s annual National Defense Authorization bill approves funding for the nation’s defense spending, military priorities and defense policies that guide our military leaders for the upcoming fiscal year.
Below is the full list of Senator Manchin’s amendments that passed through the Senate Armed Services Committee annual defense spending mark-up.
STOP NATION-BUILDING IN AFGHANISTAN
1. No Funds for Afghan Mining Amendment. The amendment withholds $63.8 billion for the “Task Force for Business and Stability Operations” in Afghanistan, an organization that primarily develops the Afghan mining and extraction industry. According to a U.S. Geological survey commissioned by the Task Force, Afghanistan sits on nearly $1 trillion worth of minerals, oil and gas. The amendment is critical because China and other foreign countries are doing most of the mining in Afghanistan, and benefiting from America’s investment. Senator Manchin’s amendment stops U.S. taxpayers from footing the bill to develop the infrastructure for the Chinese to mine, unless the Secretary of Defense certifies that the Government of Afghanistan will repay the United States.
2. Rebuild America, not Afghanistan Amendment. The amendment expresses the Sense of Congress that no new nation-building projects will be funded in Afghanistan after 2014.
SUPPORT THE NATIONAL GUARD
3. National Guard Counterdrug Programs Amendment. The amendment applauds the National Guard’s counterdrug mission and encourages the National Guard Bureau to share data it collects through this program with relevant interagency partners, including the Drug Enforcement Administration.
4. Governor’s Notification for Guard and Reserve Units Amendment. The amendment requires the Department of Defense to notify the governor of a state if the deployment status of a Guard or Reserve unit is changed.
5. Support the Guard C-130 Amendment. The amendment directs the Department of Defense to give the National Guard the appropriate and equitable priority when upgrading the fleet of C130s. This will directly help the Charleston, West Virginia fleet of C130s.
6. Keep Drugs Out of Our Communities Amendment. The amendment calls attention to the sequester cuts on the U.S. counterdrug mission in Latin America. Most of the cocaine that ravages in states like West Virginia originates from that region. This amendment directs the Department of Defense to review its policies in the region. The National Guard has an active partnership program in this region.
7. Audit the Pentagon Amendment. The amendment calls attention to the serious nature of the financial accounting procedures of the Pentagon, and strictly reinforces the established timeline for a Pentagon audit.
8. Sequestration Flexibility Amendment. The amendment requires the Department of Defense to detail the impacts to national security if the military is not given flexibility, and must make across-the-board cuts.
9. Inspector General Contractors Amendment. The amendment urges the Department of Defense Inspector General to continue its emphasis on uncovering fraud, waste and abuse within the Department of Defense, and to provide additional accounting on the number and capabilities of contractors.
10. Simpson-Bowles Weapons Systems Review Amendment. The amendment directs the Department of Defense to study the recommendations made by the Simpson-Bowles Commission to reduce inefficient or redundant weapons systems, and submit a report on the feasibility of implementing the recommendations.
11. Lessons Learned in Iraq and Afghanistan Amendment. The amendment directs the Department of Defense to review nearly $7.6 billion in appropriated funds from Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP) in Iraq and Afghanistan, and provide a comprehensive review of the program. This review will serve as a guidebook for similar programs in the decades to come.
12. Targeting Transnational Security Threats Amendment. The amendment requires the Department of Defense to describe how current programs that interrupt the finances of terrorists align with larger national security priorities. This bill will help to maximize the impact of limited resources.
13. Good Program Management for the Army Paladin Program Amendment. The amendment redirects funds the Army cannot use to other accounts to help keep the Paladin artillery program on track, ensuring the Army is using its funds as efficiently and effectively as possible. As Chair of the Airland Subcommittee, Senator Manchin is constantly looking to reduce costs, keep programs on track and get the best value for every dollar that the American taxpayer pays.
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS AND MILITARY FAMILIES
14. Veterans Jobs Amendment. The amendment directs the Department of Defense to review unemployment compensation, which totaled $6.5 billion over the past ten years, for 89,000 service members. The amendment also directs the Department of Defense and other agencies to continue to develop a consolidated jobs portal that will improve access to the resumes of transitioning veterans for civilian employers.
15. Women in the Military Amendment. The amendment recognizes the strides the Department of Defense has made in opening up career fields for women and requests information and recommendations on retaining women throughout a military career.
16. Stop Sexual Assault Predators from Serving in the Military Amendment. This amendment requires the Department of Defense to review policies to ensure that troops convicted of serious sexual assault crimes at off-post locations can no longer serve in the military. Senator Manchin worked alongside Senator McCain on this provision. The bill requires the military to report to Congress with its findings, and to make recommendations that will keep sexual predators out of our military.
17. Protect our Military Children Amendment. This amendment requires that the Department of Defense report on the status of all of their daycare centers because of recent and severe abuses of children at the Fort Myer, Virginia childcare facility. Several instances of child abuse resulted in the firing of at least 3 employees, and the suspension of 31 additional employees, plus a review of all Department of Defense childcare facilities.
Senator Manchin also included his Commonsense Contractor Salary Amendment, which was not agreed to, but the Committee did agree to lower the compensation limit from $763,029 to $487,325. This figure is the original benchmark on compensation that was introduced in 1988, adjusted for inflation. If the Committee had not acted, the contractor compensation cap could rise to $950,000 this year. Senator Manchin will continue to push to decrease the compensation limit to $230,700, which is the most government civilian employees and executives can make in a given year.
Press Release on the Markup of the Senate Armed Services Committee National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014:
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