Washington D.C.House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement after deciding not to sign the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act conference report:

 I cannot sign the conference report or vote for this bill. This legislation is bad for national security for several reasons.

 This bill will exacerbate budgetary dysfunction and hamper our military at a time when it desperately needs reliable support. Band-Aids and budget tricks will no longer work – we must address the root causes of the problem. We must eliminate sequestration and enact a long-term, comprehensive budget deal.  

 I understand that finding a compromise to remove sequestration and to relax the current budget caps has been difficult, but that does not justify the bill’s misuse of $38.3 billion in overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding to circumvent the defense cap. OCO dollars are only provided on a year-to-year basis, which means they offer the Department of Defense little certainty or reliable financial basis with which to make long-term plans or investments in important priorities.  As Secretary Carter has said, the funding approach outlined in this bill fails to provide a stable, multi-year budget on which defense planning is necessarily based.  In his words, it provides a “road to nowhere.”

This type of funding tactic, coupled with the use of Continuing Resolutions to fund the government and the persistence of sequestration, places our military in a very difficult position. As members of the Armed Services Committee, we have got to do better.

This bill also falls far short on a wide range of other issues. This bill perpetuates the existence of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which continues to serve as propaganda for extremists and undermine our moral standing in the world. It is also unnecessary and excessively expensive, costing millions per detainee.

The National Defense Authorization Act has never been perfect. And it will never be perfect. What matters most is that, on balance, this bill represents a commitment to our national security, and to the individuals who we ask to stand watch and execute the missions necessary to ensure our security.  In today’s dangerous and unpredictable world, we must ensure that our military has the resources and tools that it needs to meet the threats of today as well as tomorrow. As written, the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act falls short of that goal.