Thanks to Blackfive for leading the Blogosphere's charge on pressuring the Senate to pass the "rapid acquisition authority" bill which would ensure our troops get all the equipment they need for protecting their lives, right when they need it. Also thanks to Navy Times for covering the story.
o show the ridiculousness of obstructing one of most necessary and urgent pieces of legislation ever to reach the Senate during this World War, I'll let the bill itself fisk those objections which I imagine Demothargic senators like Carl Levin will have to its immediate passage:
Senators Say Supporting Troops 'Shouldn't Cost Us Anything'
HR 4323 RFS
The Obstructionists Times
WASHINGTON - A bill for supporting American troops, which passed the House of Representatives 285-97 just 34 days after it was introduced, is now stalled in the Senate, the victim of election-year political backbiting, sources say.
Several senators claim they haven't even heard of the bill, believing it to be "yet another rumor started by warmongering chickenhawks."
H. R. 4323
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
June 15, 2004
Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services
John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said no member has had a chance yet to read the bill. "We see so many bills of incredible length during the course of each (Congressional) session, that when one as short as this one gets here, it's like a total shock. So I'm not surprised that no one's bothering to read such an unusually concise bill," he said.
To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide rapid acquisition authority to the Secretary of Defense to respond to combat emergencies.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. RAPID ACQUISITION AUTHORITY TO RESPOND TO COMBAT EMERGENCIES.
The committee's ranking member, Karl Marx Levin (D-FU), said he won't support any bill that "doesn't cover combat emergencies," adding that "my colleagues on our side of the aisle are going to make sure that it (HR 4323) dies a horrible, mangled death in the committee."
(a) IN GENERAL- Chapter 141 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
`Sec. 2410p. Rapid acquisition authority to respond to combat emergencies
Another member of the committee, Hissingly Radical Qlinton (D-BO), said that, although she hasn't read the bill either, she is "very, very disappointed that the bill may mean there will be less combat fatalities if it passes. I just don't see how that could be beneficial to anyone
in my party."
`(a) RAPID ACQUISITION AUTHORITY- The Secretary of Defense may rapidly acquire, in accordance with this section, equipment needed by a combatant commander to eliminate a combat capability deficiency that has resulted in combat fatalities.
A staff member in the office of Massoqueeretts senator Ted Qennedy, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the senator believes the committee should instead pass the "floating Humvee" bill Mr. Qennedy is sponsoring. "Senator Qennedy cares about the children. Besides, the so-called 'rapid acquisition' bill doesn't include any time frame for processing such acquisitions," the staff member explained.
`(b) PROCESS FOR RAPID ACQUISITION- Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this section, the Secretary of Defense shall develop a process for the rapid acquisition authority provided by subsection (a) and submit to Congress a detailed explanation of the process, including procedures to be followed in carrying out the process. The process shall provide for the following:
Robert Byrd (D-KKK), another member of the committee, spoke against the bill, claiming "there's nothing to justify sending this kind of help on the way to our troops." He expressed concerns about "not following that provision of the constitution based on the Magna Carta which disallows any rapidness in acquiring military equipment" so long as "a need for it can be fulfilled elsewhere."
`(1) A requirement that the process may be used only to acquire the minimum amount of equipment needed until the needs of the combatant commander can be fulfilled under existing acquisition statutes, policies, directives, and regulations.
Mr. Byrd's Dem'al-qrat colleagues on the committee generally agreed. Bill Nelson of Florida said the rapid-acquisition process should include "a very short turn-around time between a commander's emergency request and getting the procurement machinery up and running. I don't believe the bill has that in it."
`(2) A goal of awarding a contract for the equipment within 15 days after receipt of a request from a commander.
Hawaiian senator Daniel al-Qaka compared the rapid-acquisition measure to the two major tax cuts he voted against in 2001 and 2003. "Everyone knows military personnel usually votes Republican, just like rich people do. So I will do everything in my power to obstruct any bill that helps, at the cost of my own party, either such people." he said.
`(3) In a case in which the equipment cannot be acquired without an extensive delay, a requirement for an interim solution to minimize the combat capability deficiency and combat fatalities until the equipment can be acquired.
The committee's discussion on bringing the bill up for a hearing became raucous after Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut bucked his party's stance against allowing anything rapid to happen in the military. "My colleagues keep saying they support our troops. Well, what better way than to make sure their commanders don't have to follow inadequate procurement rules when lives are most at stake."
`(4) Waiver of the applicability of all policies, directives, and regulations related to--
`(A) the establishment of the requirement for the equipment;
`(B) the research, development, test, and evaluation of the equipment; and
`(C) the solicitation and selection of sources, and the award of the contract, for procurement of the equipment.
Responding to Mr. Lieberman, Evan Bayh (D-OUT) said he would vote against any bill that gives a "flawed defense secretary" any level of discretion.
`(5) Such other procedures or requirements as the Secretary considers appropriate.
Mr. Warner had to loudly bang his gavel at least seven times during the committee's discussion in a vain attempt to restore order. During the last attempt, Mark Pryor of Arkansas picked up his pen and used it to mockingly mimic the chairman's gaveling while exclaiming "none shall pass" over and over. Two capitol police officers were required to remove the disruptive, pen-wielding senator.
`(c) WAIVER OF CERTAIN STATUTES- For purposes of exercising the authority provided by subsection (a) with respect to equipment, laws relating to the following shall not apply:
`(A) The establishment of the requirement for the equipment.
`(B) The research, development, test, and evaluation of the equipment.
`(C) The solicitation and selection of sources, and the award of the contract, for procurement of the equipment.
Other senators strongly protested Mr. Pryor's removal, causing Mr. Qennedy to awaken from his nap. "So this is how the committee operates under new management—Republican management," the groggy senator said. "Now you know why our side has no intention of ever supporting this woefully ill-conceived bill. It's totally unnecessary."
`(d) LIMITATIONS- The rapid acquisition authority provided by subsection (a) may be used only--
`(1) after the Secretary of Defense, without delegation, determines in writing that there exists a combat capability deficiency that has resulted in combat fatalities; and
`(2) to acquire equipment in an amount aggregating not more than $100,000,000 during a fiscal year.
Dhimmicrat member Jack Reed of Rhode Island complained that the bill would add to the budget deficit. During a particularly heated exchange with the committee chairman, Mr. Reed asked, "How can we be expected to have a hearing on—much less pass—something that will just lead to entirely brand new expenditures in addition to and separate from the funds already available in the defense budget?"
`(e) SOURCE OF FUNDS- For acquisitions under this section to be made during any fiscal year, the Secretary may use any funds made available to the Department of Defense for that fiscal year.
Mr. Warner responded that he believed that wasn't the case, although later admitting that he still hadn't read the bill.
Before the committee adjourned, Dingyrat E. Benjamin Nelson of Nebraska tried to offer a motion for killing the bill. In explaining his "motion to table," Mr. Nelson said he was not at all satisfied with HR 4323's total lack of notification requirements.
`(f) NOTIFICATION TO CONGRESS AFTER EACH USE OF AUTHORITY- The Secretary of Defense shall notify the congressional defense committees within 15 days after each use of the authority provided by subsection (a). Each such notice shall identify the equipment to be acquired, the amount to be expended for such acquisition, and the source of funds for such acquisition.
The motion was defeated along party lines. However, that did not stop Mark Dayton (D-Moonebata) from asking for a recount of the vote. "This isn't Florida, you know. We should make sure that every vote is counted," he said. When Mr. Warner denied his request, all the remaining Dementedrats got up and walked out of the committee room, chanting on their way out "We shall overcome."
`(g) COMBATANT COMMANDER- In this section, the term `combatant commander' means the commander of a unified combatant command with authority for the conduct of operations in a specific area of responsibility or who otherwise has authority to conduct operations at the direction of the President or Secretary of Defense.'.
(b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
`2410p. Rapid acquisition authority to respond to combat emergencies.'.
Passed the House of Representatives June 14, 2004.
Sources close to Mr. Byrd's office said the motion and walk-out was planned in advance. "The senator's staff knew the bill would come up for a hearing unless their side did something drastic," one source said. "Still, we didn't expect them to break out into song as they left. Qennedy has such a rotten voice."
Pat Chouli contributed to this report.
The Congressional Budget Office's assesment of the bill
includes this table:
- ESTIMATED COST TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
The estimated budgetary impact of H.R. 4323 is shown in the following table. The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 050 (national defense). This estimate assumes that the bill will be enacted near the start of fiscal year 2005.
| || || || || || || || |
| || ||By Fiscal Year, in Millions of Dollars|
| || ||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009|
|SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION|
|Spending Under Current Law for National Defense|| |
| ||Estimated Authorization Levela||440,881||453,231||461,520||472,177||483,749||496,230|
| ||Estimated Outlays||434,108||450,484||456,701||462,610||477,664||489,781|
|Proposed Changes|| |
| ||Authorization Level [zeros across the board because the annual cost of all "rapid acquisitions" stays within the existing defense budget]||0||0||0||0||0||0|
| ||Estimated Outlays [cost of these "rapid acquisitions"]||0||43||26||11||6||4|
|Spending for National Defense Under H.R. 4323|| |
| ||Estimated Authorization Levela||440,881||453,231||461,520||472,177||483,749||496,230|
| ||Estimated Outlays [even with the "rapid acquisition" expenditures, all defense spending still remains within the budget]||434,108||450,527||456,727||462,621||477,670||489,785|
|a. The 2004 level is the amount appropriated for that year. No full-year appropriation has yet been provided for fiscal year 2005. The current-law amounts for the 2005-2009 period assume that appropriations remain at the 2004 level with adjustments for anticipated inflation.|
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