The Senate Armed Services Committee today approved its version of the fiscal year 2013 Defense Authorization bill, which includes several proposals authored or cosponsored by U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a committee member. In addition to several measures aimed at bringing greater fiscal discipline to the Department of Defense (DoD), the legislation also includes provisions Ayotte fought for that will strengthen Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
"Spending must be scrutinized across government, including at the Pentagon. The measures I wrote will reduce waste and help bring greater transparency to the defense budget. Given the serious fiscal crisis we face, every dollar at the Pentagon must be spent carefully and to maximum effect," said Senator Ayotte. "I also continued my efforts on behalf of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, working to include a measure aimed at ensuring the shipyard continues to have a strong workload. Portsmouth is an irreplaceable national defense asset, with workers whose expertise is second to none. As this legislation moves to the full Senate, I will continue to advocate strongly for Portsmouth."
AYOTTE PROVISIONS INCLUDED THE FY 2013 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT:
Last year, Senator Ayotte introduced an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would have required the Pentagon to complete a full statement of budget resources by 2014. This amendment passed the Senate unanimously, but was not included in the final bill. This language passed today as part of the SASC-approved defense authorization bill. Since arriving in the Senate, Senator Ayotte has pushed for an expedited and full audit of the Pentagon - believing that to distinguish between necessary defense budget cuts and cuts that would harm our troops and damage military readiness, DoD must have reliable financial data and effective business processes and systems in place.
Senator Ayotte's amendment prohibits any funding for the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), a troubled weapons program that the Pentagon has said it does not plan to use. Despite this fact, DoD chose to ignore both current law and congressional direction and requested $400.9 million for MEADS in the FY 2013 budget. Senators Ayotte and Begich led two letters this year to Senate Appropriators and Secretary Panetta calling for an end to funding for this program.
Also included in the bill is Senator Ayotte's amendment that requires the president to annually certify whether plans to modernize or replace strategic nuclear delivery systems are fully funded. If the president does not fully fund modernization plans, he must report to Congress on whether there will be a loss in military capability, and in that case, he must also report on how to preserve military capability. Ayotte's amendment echoes a letter she recently sent to the president, which was signed by 11 other freshman Republican Senators, calling on the administration to fulfill its commitment to nuclear modernization on which the ratification of the New START Treaty was contingent.
DoD Inspector General
Senator Ayotte successfully incorporated an amendment into the reporting language that calls on the President to submit to Congress as soon as possible a nominee for the position of DoD Inspector General, a position that oversees the department's spending and operations, and helps root out waste, fraud, and abuse.
Senator Ayotte's amendment would prohibit the Navy from eliminating one of the three Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons (MPS) until the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps submit a report to Congress that assesses Marine Corps stockpiles in Norway and the ability of those stockpiles to address any readiness gaps created by the elimination of one MPS in the Mediterranean region.
The bill also contains McCain-Ayotte language from last year that would prohibit DoD from using cost-type contracts for the production of major defense acquisition programs, unless DoD officials certify to Congress that a cost-type contract is needed to provide required capability in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Army and Marine Corps Endstrength Reductions and Involuntary Separations
Senator Ayotte included language that requires the Army and Marine Corps to provide regular reports regarding any Marines or soldiers who are involuntarily separated from the military to achieve endstrength reductions. As the Army and Marines reduce the size of their forces, Ayotte's language will also require DOD to provide information to Congress regarding dwell time-the time at home between deployments. The Army has said it will have to issue thousands of involuntary separations to achieve its endstrength reductions.
Senator Ayotte successfully included language that seeks to clarify the Navy's current requirement for the size of the Naval fleet. The language requires the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) to submit a report to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees that clearly states the Navy's ship requirement. If the requirement is less than 313 ships and submarines (the CNO's number last year), then the CNO will need to justify the revised numbers and explain how this reduction is consistent with the President and Secretary of Defense's strategic guidance that emphasizes the Asia Pacific.
Repeal of Controversial Depot Provision
Senator Ayotte worked to repeal controversial language related to military depots and shipyards included in last year's defense bill that threatened to upset the delicate workload balance between public and private shipyards, including Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Senator Ayotte described last year's depot provision as a "solution in search of a problem." Repealing last year's depot provision will help ensure that Portsmouth Naval Shipyard continues to serve as the nation's preeminent public shipyard.
Facility Sustainment, Restoration, and Modernization (FSRM)
Senator Ayotte worked to include language that requires DoD to meet unique facility requirements associated with historic buildings located on military installations. Currently, some bases, such as Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, have a large quantity of historic buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places that are critical to the bases' operations. The presence of these buildings on the registry requires the respective bases to maintain these buildings at a higher and costlier standard. Yet, the Department frequently does not provide sufficient funding to match these requirements. This reporting requirement will help address this ongoing problem.
Joining Forces Initiative
Senator Ayotte and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) successfully included an amendment that authorizes a DoD program to enhance the department's research, treatment, education, and outreach on mental health, substance use disorders, and Traumatic Brain Injury for members of the National Guard and Reserves, their family members, and their caregivers. This amendment will help address the unique needs of Guard and Reserve members by allowing DoD to enter into these partnerships with private organizations and institutions according to a competitive and merit-based process. The National Guard Association of the United States has endorsed this legislation.
Protecting America's Overseas Military Cemeteries
Senator Ayotte successfully included an amendment that would require the Secretary of Defense to submit a report no later than 30 days after the closure of any overseas U.S. military base that details a plan to ensure that an appropriate federal agency or private entity assumes responsibility for continued maintenance and oversight of the cemetery located on the base. The Ayotte amendment would help ensure that no cemetery will be neglected the way Clark Veterans Cemetery was following the Air Force's departure from Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines in 1991.
Prosthetics for Wounded Warriors
Language included by Senator Ayotte requires the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a plan to standardize the production and performance of prostheses and prosthetic sockets for military amputees. The Ayotte report language encourages the Department to continue clinical and technological research and development for prostheses, as well as adopt standards for production and standards for human performance, which are critical to helping service members who have lost one or more limbs in service to our country to achieve their highest goals for recovery, rehabilitation, and performance.