A forthcoming study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) serves as a reminder that the US must evaluate the worthiness of investing billions of dollars into its nuclear arsenal. The study addresses affordability and concludes that “U.S. nuclear forces are affordable because their projected costs account for a small percentage of the overall defense budget.”
The 1987 INF treaty prohibits Russia and the United States from having land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500-5500 kilometers. The United States has accused Russia of testing a cruise missile that would violate this range, although there is no evidence that they have deployed these cruise missiles.
Sequestration, the budget mechanism that kicks in if and only if Congress does not budget to the caps set under the 2011 Budget Control Act, has been framed as the big bad wolf of Washington. But this frequent mischaracterization of sequestration as a vague, threatening entity neglects a key facet of budget construction: sequestration won’t kick in unless Congress fails to do its job.
This month, Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) introduced the bipartisan Audit the Pentagon Act of 2015, (H.R. 942) co-sponsored by Mike Burgess (R-Texas) and five others. It aims to do exactly what it says: audit the Pentagon. Why, you ask? Because unlike every other federal agency required by law to undergo an audit, the Department of Defense (DoD) has never done so.
Last week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released its biennial update to its High Risk List – a compilation of government programs that are identified as “high risk due to their greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or the need for transformation to address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges.” Department of Defense weapon systems acquisition and Department of Energy contract management have both been on the GAO’s High Risk List for the last 25 years.
Defense Secretary nominee Ashton Carter’s confirmation hearing is set for the first week of February. Coinciding with Carter’s confirmation, on February 2, the president will send Congress his fiscal year 2016 budget request. One of Mr. Carter’s first tasks as Chuck Hagel’s replacement will be to defend the President’s FY 2016 budget request – a document on which Mr. Carter has presumably had little influence.
After more than a few budget antics this weekend, both the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, H.R. 3979) and FY15 Omnibus (H.R. 83), or “Cromnibus,” have cleared Congress.
The House and Senate Armed Services Committees completed behind-the-scenes negotiations on the NDAA on December 1st then moved on to a vote in the House on December 5th, where the bill passed 300-119. On December 12th, the Senate lent its approval to the bill by a vote of 89-11, marking the 53rd consecutive NDAA approved by Congress.