Mattis weighs in on NDAA

October 20, 2017

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis outlined DoD's positions and made clear his concerns and key objections regarding the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in letters submitted to the leadership of the House and Senate Armed Services committees. 

The committees are currently in conference, working to reconcile the two different versions of the defense authorization bill that passed their respective chambers, so a final version can be passed by both houses of Congress and sent to President Donald Trump for his signature. 

As it stands now, the House - which passed its version in July - is recommending $621.5 billion in the base budget and $75 billion to fund Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).  The Senate passed its version last month and proposes $640 billion in the base budget and $60 billion in OCO funding. 

Mattis' letter was up-front with his concerns about spending caps mandated under the Budget Control Act (BCA), reiterating his much-quoted sentiment, “No enemy in the field has done more to harm the warfighting readiness of our military than sequestration.”  The current caps, he went on to write, “unnecessarily defer critical maintenance, limit aviation ability, delay modernization, and strain our men and women in uniform.” MOAA could not agree more. 

Mattis also stated his support for an additional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round as a significant opportunity to find savings through the reduction of excess capacity-almost $2 billion annually, by the Pentagon's calculations. 

Regarding military health care, Mattis stated his opposition to the language currently in NDAA legislation regarding military health system reform, “in order to allow time to implement reforms required by previous NDAAs.” 

Mattis' letter did indicate his support for the inclusion of “reasonable” pharmacy copayments and the removal of grandfathering provisions on certain fees, looking to gain a projected $6 billion in savings over the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) - a position MOAA is clearly at odds with. 

Congressional defense leadership intend to have the conference negotiations completed by the end of October, in order to have a final version of the FY18 NDAA brought up for a vote before the Thanksgiving break. 

 

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