MN-08 : Cravaack Defund Reagan Peace Act But Not Military Boards

Finally, the House Republicans are starting to address the budget by voting on a H.R.1 — Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011.
The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee has offered its cuts for the current year.
Now, some may not agree with the proposal … for example, it differs from the Republican Study Committee proposed cuts – i.e. $167.5 million from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and $167.5 million from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) … while the Appropriations Committee plan only takes $6 million each from NEA and NEH … on one side they are advertising big cuts on programs that their supportors do not want funded, but when it was time to make the actual cuts, the Republicans fail to delivery.

As such, the House is now debating a number of amendments (about 400) … one that has received a lengthy debate was offered by Jeff Flake (R-AZ-06) … one of the few truly fiscally responsible members of Congress … and a knowledgeable Congressman that Republicans have, up until this term, failed to appoint to a seat on the Appropriations Committee that he sought. Congressman Flake offered Amendment Number 370 to reduce funding by $18,750,000 for unneeded boards and commissions … and he spoke about specifically about the unneeded military boards. Cutting this type of funding was recommened by the Heritage Foundation in a report on how to reform the Defense Department … and was also endorsed by Secretary Robert Gates :

According to the Congressional Research Service, “the OSD funds 65 boards and commissions at an annual cost of $75 million” and spends up to $84 million for contractors to prepare studies and reports for various audiences, most often Congress. Congress can expect Secretary Gates’s initiatives to save a significant percentage of those expenditures. Cuts of 25 percent in each area would yield up to $40 million in annual savings.

Now, remember this is not cutting the “frontline warriors” nor equipment … this is cutting the bloated bureaucracy.

Sadly, as fiscally responsible as Congressman Flake’s amendment was, it failed … as a majority of Republicans voted NO … on the “Let’s keep the unneeded boards” were John Kline (R-MN-02) and Raymond Cravaack (R-MN-08) while Michelle Bachmann (R-MN-06) and Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) sided with Congressman Flake.

Although cutting $18,750,000 for unneeded military boards was rejected, Mr. Cravaack has authored his own amendment to save $45,676,000 … by defunding the United States Institute of Peace (page 321 Line 7).

Like a lot of government agency, the USIP is one that most Americans probably are not aware of … nor who’s administration created it.

President Ronald Reagan signed the law in 1984, establishing the Institute as a publicly funded national institution chartered to “serve the American people and the federal government through the widest possible range of education and training, basic and applied research opportunities, and peace information services on the means to promote international peace and the resolution of conflicts among the nations and peoples of the world without recourse to violence.

Hmmm … considering that Congress had no problem funding the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration and Egypt is just in the midst of a peaceful revolution, wouldn’t Congress want to funding programs like United States Institute of Peace as a “carrot” to the military “stick” ?

Its that alternative that plays an important role … driving the foreign policy debate on nuclear weapons, on conflict prevention and many other critical issues. In 2008, Secretary Gates argued for additional resources for the State Department.

Now, Raymond Cravaack is making his mark in Washington by supporting unneeded boards while opposing funding for a function that has operated under the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama Adminstration. The United States national defense is served when America works with other nations to curb the spread of the most dangerous weapons in history. For the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program to work, agencies like United States Institute of Peace serve a valuable function.

Yes, cuts must be made, but Mr. Cravaack is advocating misguided funding choices. Mr. Cravaack’s Press Release states : “Given our current fiscal constraints, I cannot justify spending over $42 million on the Institute of Peace.” Mr. Cravaack cites the support of Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-partisan group whose mission is to eliminate waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in the federal government, as reasoning for the cut. Well, Mr. Cravaack please review the CAGW recommended Prime Cuts for the Department of Defense … they have identified a lot of wasteful programs that cost the taxpayer many more dollars.

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