Congress must stop soft ‘earmarking’ in Pentagon spending bill

How Washington REALLY “works.”

(From The Hill)

Below you will find the sections of the bill that Congress uses to keep the Pentagon from finding the best value on certain types of military supplies, reorganizing military commands, ending missions the military no longer believes are viable, and, of course closing any unnecessary military bases.

For example: SEC. 8016. None of the funds in this Act may be available for the purchase by the Department of Defense (and its departments and agencies) of welded shipboard anchor and mooring chain 4 inches in diameter and under unless the anchor and mooring chain are manufactured in the United States from components which are substantially manufactured in the United States…”

All of the provisions start with some form of “None of the funds in this Act” because spending bills are not supposed to set policy. Lawmakers back into policy by limiting government’s ability to spend on things or activities, in this case buying chain from anywhere but the U.S. And since appropriations bills only last for a year, these parochial and protectionist provisions have to appear every single year to have effect. The late Rep. Helen Bentley (R-Md.) championed this provision, which first appeared in the FY1989 bill. Two years ago Appropriations Committee member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) got it expanded to include U.S. Army Corps of Engineers vessels as well. Murray and Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) even asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) if the Corps of Engineers had violated the relatively new provision. Nope, but only because the Corps used earlier funds from FY2015…

…Unlike restrictions keeping all supercomputer acquisition domestic (Sec. 8048), there are no legitimate security concerns for these provisions.

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