It’s NDAA season! That means Congress is knee-deep in negotiating policy and spending priorities for the Department of Defense. For advocates like us, this is a prime window of opportunity to champion our issues. Take a look at 3 priorities SFI will be tracking this season.
But first: What is the NDAA?
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an annual Department of Defense (DoD) budget that covers just about every aspect of military life. By designating where the DoD is and is not allowed to spend money, this bill carries a lot of policy power.
The NDAA is a “must-pass” bill. Unlike other standalone bills that can languish with inaction, the NDAA is a legislative vehicle that by necessity will move forward. As a result, many national security advocates try to get their priorities included in the bill, either in the original markup or later as amendments.
How to pass your idea into law? Read more about NDAA legislating here.
1. End Endless Wars
There is an outdated, unnecessary law on the books that’s dangerous for military families. It’s called the 2002 Iraq War Authorization. It’s no longer needed for ongoing military operations, and it allows Presidents from both parties to engage in military hostilities abroad without Congressional approval. In 2019, this law enabled a strike that brought the U.S. to the brink of war with Iran.
Repealing this law is a crucial step toward ending endless war.
The bill to repeal this law already passed the House of Representatives earlier this year, and it has bipartisan support in the Senate. (I know, since when does that happen?!) So if 2002 repeal gets introduced as an NDAA amendment as well, we expect it to stand a good chance of passage.
2. Reduce Domestic Militarism
Last year we saw a frightening boost in domestic militarism. From using military equipment to tear-gas protestors in Lafayette Park last June, to federal bureaucracy delays that hindered the National Guard’s ability to respond to January 6 insurrection attempts, the lines between active-duty military and domestic law enforcement have blurred dangerously.
Good news — we’ve already had some successes! The NDAA already calls for the D.C. National Guard to fall under the D.C. Mayor’s authority (like states do with their governors). And Congresswoman Sherrill passed an amendment we endorsed at the committee level that requires the National Guard to receive consent from states before deploying across state lines.
There’s still work to do. The 1033 program enables the DoD to transfer extra weapons and equipment to local law enforcement offices. These weapons of war don’t belong on our streets. SFI will be supporting an NDAA amendment to reform this program by limiting deadly weapons from transfer.
While the end to America’s longest war came as a relief to many of us, we have also been heartbroken at the stories of vulnerable Afghans and allies left behind. We expect to see a flurry of new bills and NDAA amendments popping up this month in response to that situation.
We’ll be looking to support pieces of legislation that will help increase refugee allowances for Afghans trying to escape to the U.S., fund humanitarian assistance both in Afghanistan and in resettlement communities, and improve the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) processing. In the meantime, there are many ways we can support Afghan refugees.