It’s a busy week in the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) as it addresses the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, but first thing first.
First up is not agreeing with the Pentagon on cutting MEADS , no, it was re-establishment support for some old issues.
For example, the Pentagon proposed increase of $5/month premium increase for TRICARE participants will be capped to match any changes in Cost Of Living Allowance … the fact that healthcare costs continue to outpace COLA is irrelevent nor the fact that this will be the first increase in over fifteen years … and that the taxpayers will continue to bear $3,584 per beneficiary.
Next issue to address was General Electric’s desire to continue to participate in the F-136 Joint Strike Fighter program by supplying an alternate engine … HASC has agreed to allow GE access to the testing facitilites … obviously, there was no concern about the disruption that could cause to the prime contractor … regardless of the Stop Work Order that the Pentagon issued in March.
But there was one other important “old” issue that needed to be addressed …. DADT and DOMA.
For seventy-three minutes, HASC debated and approved three amendments.
For forty minutes, HASC debated Duncan Hunter, Jr.’s (R-CA-52) amendment to require that certification of military readiness to implement repeal of the ban on gays in the military be done by the Chiefs of the four branches of the military, in addition to the certifications already required from the president, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“Right now as it stands, the only folks that have sign on to this are the president, who was never been to war or in ground combat, Adm. (Mike) Mullen, who, with all due respect to him, has never been to ground combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, and Secretary Gates, a political appointee, who is very fine gentleman but has never been in ground combat in Iraq or Afghanistan,” Hunter said. “I, and others in this room, have more combat experience than the people who would sign off on the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
One of the people on the Committee, Chris Gibson (R-NY-20) did talk about his military experience and the questions that he posed to the military leaders … Congressman Gibson said he was satisfied with their responses and informed the Republicans on the committee that he would vote against Mr. Hunter’s amendment. Todd Platts (R-PA-19) also voted broke ranks, but John Kline (R-MN-02) and the rest of the Republicans held firm in a 33-27 vote.
The second amendment came from Vicky Hartzler (R-MO-04) and the purpose was to emphasize that DOMA still applies to Defense Department regulations and policies. Ms. Hartzler, who’s bio does not indicate any military experience but is the author of Running God’s Way and served as state spokeswoman for the Coalition to Protect Marriage, was approved after a twenty minute debate. (Note : Ms. Hartzler is allegedly a small-government advocate – yet is one of the very top recipients of federal farm subsidy money in Congress having received $774325 in federal subsidies from 1995 to 2009.)
Lastly for a scant thirteen minutes, HASC debated. W. Todd Akin (R-MO-02) introduced an amendment mandating that marriage ceremonies on military installations must comply with DOMA and that chaplains can only officiate in their official capacity over marriage ceremonies if they comply with the anti-gay law.
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), called the amendments “an assault on our nation’s senior military leaders and rank-and-file service members, who are marching toward open military service successfully.”
“These adopted amendments to delay and derail repeal are a partisan political attempt to interject the same-sex marriage debate and other unrelated social issues into the [budget authorization legislation] where they have no place,” said Sarvis.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the amendments were intended “to slow down open service and perpetuate scare tactics about the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
Well, here’s the good news, now that that the House Armed Services Committee has turned back the clock to address these old issues, it can now proceed to figuring out how it can turn back the clock on military spending.