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By Concerned Veterans for America

ARLINGTON, Va.Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) on Friday responded to the House’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024, highlighting some key amendments that would wisely refocus the efforts of our defense budget and foreign policy while condemning lawmakers who voted against congressional oversight for the war in Ukraine.  

The group also criticized congressional leaders for a missed opportunity to advance non-controversial repeals of the outdated 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs). 

Russ Duerstine, CVA’s Executive Director, had this to say about the annual bill: 

“Year after year, this bill continues to be used as a vehicle for partisan gamesmanship and propping up political interests. We applaud leaders who instead chose to embrace and participate in this process by supporting amendments that address systemic challenges to our national security, specifically when it comes to accountability and oversight for America’s involvement in the war in Ukraine and other conflicts abroad.” 

In particular, CVA commended amendments, which passed, from Reps. Steil (WI), Bowman (NY), Biggs (AZ), and Brecheen (OK).

  • Steil’s amendment (Floor #259) would require the Secretaries of State and Defense to provide quarterly briefings to congressional defense committees on the status of weapons the United States has committed to sending to Ukraine, in addition to other regional allies who are in turn providing weapons to Ukraine. 
  • Bowman’s amendment (Floor #26) would require public disclosure about the cost of the United States’ overseas military footprint and operations. 
  • Biggs’ amendment (Floor #54) would require the DoD to perform an audit. Departments and agencies that fail to comply receive a 0.5% budget cut. 
  • Brecheen’s amendment (Floor #28) would require the Special Inspector General for Ukraine established in the House’s base NDAA text to investigate the accuracy and consistency with which weapons sent to Ukraine were fiscally evaluated for their monetary value by the DoD since the start of the 2022 Russian invasion.

Duerstine continued:  

A year and a half into the Ukraine conflict, America’s arsenal is emptying. It’s past time the U.S. cancels blank checks to Ukraine and sets realistic conditions on any new Ukraine aid supplementals that should come before Congress this fall. America has undoubtedly reached an inflection point where congressional leaders must practice adequate oversight, fiscal responsibility, and transparency, on behalf of the American taxpayers they represent in Washington.” 

CVA was particularly disappointed by the missed opportunity to advance Rep. Barbara Lee’s amendment (Rules Print #31), to repeal the outdated 1991 and 2002 AUMFs – bipartisan war powers reform the group has been pushing for years. Duerstine emphasized: 

“Our troops continue to bear the burdens of old and new wars around the globe; they deserve leaders in Washington who are willing to make tough decisions about when and why we send our men and women into harm’s way. We applaud Rep. Lee for being a tireless champion for the repeal of outdated Authorizations for Use of Military Force. While this Congress should be one step closer to fulfilling its constitutional duty of reasserting itself in shaping American foreign policy, it has instead decided to kick the can on this non-controversial repeal further down the road. CVA urges lawmakers to reprioritize putting an end to obsolete authorizations that could make it easier for America to get dragged into unwise wars in the future.”

Earlier this week, CVA sent a letter to Congress outlining key NDAA amendment priorities. 

Duerstine concluded: 

“The Senate will now have an opportunity to listen to the American people, put party politics aside, and pass an NDAA that is aligned with our nation’s most vital interests. It’s up to this Congress to correct course and forge a better, more prosperous path forward.”