Photo courtesy of David B. Gleason
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed a defense bill – the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA – last week which provides $610 billion for Pentagon and military spending in fiscal year 2017. The bill authorizes $551 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget and $59 billion for the Pentagon’s slush fund.
The legislation endured much debate and multiple amendments and contains provisions so controversial that the president has already issued a veto threat.
Here are just 3 you should know about:
Offered as an amendment to the NDAA by Representative Steve Russell (R-OK), this provision would allow federal contractors – most of whom are military contractors – to discriminate against employees simply because they identify as LGBT. Supporters called it a “religious liberty” issue and thwarted a bipartisan attempt to strike the language from the bill before it passed. This comes after President Obama signed an executive order in 2014 protecting LGBT workers in federal contracts. A person’s LGBT status should not mean they have to fear discrimination at work or anywhere.
The president has been trying to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay for a while. But the NDAA contains a provision that would bar the administration from doing that, despite that the facility costs $450 million in annual operating costs and has become a recruiting tool for extremists.
Currently, there are 9,800 troops in Afghanistan and although our involvement there should be drawing to a close, an NDAA provision would keep all of those troops there in 2017. The war in Afghanistan alone has cost taxpayers $738 billion since 2001. Deploying just 1 solider abroad for 1 year costs more than $1 million – how long will we keep sinking money into endless war with few results to show for it?