This is Senator Carl Levin’s last year as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He should open up this year’s NDAA consideration process. A vote to close the markup of the NDAA should be a rare event and only when classified information must be discussed. Notably, the House Armed Services Committee did not see the need to close its markup of the NDAA for national security reasons at all last year.
There is nothing to prevent private deliberation on the bill. It is well known that there are many closed-door deliberations among senators and staff—as well as with outside interests—that will continue in spite of an open markup. Nonetheless, the American people should not be shut out.
Chairman Levin can make the Senate Armed Services Committee at least as transparent as the House Armed Services Committee by
Photo Credit: Hisham Ibrahim/Getty Images
To: Senate Armed Services Leadership
When Congress is deciding how to spend more than half a trillion dollars of the taxpayers’ money, it needs to do so in public.
It is deeply troubling that the Pentagon’s budget (the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA) that last year authorized more than $625 billion in spending—is drafted and voted on by the Senate Armed Services Committee almost entirely in secret. Last year only one quarter of senators had an opportunity to amend the NDAA—and they did so almost entirely behind closed doors. The bill—usually more than 1,000 pages long—is often then voted on with little or no chance for public debate and amendments by the full Senate.
The public has a right to know how Congress is conducting the people’s business, particularly when so many taxpayer dollars and important wide-ranging policies are at stake.
Unlike the Senate, the House Armed Services Committee conducts its work on the NDAA in the open.
It’s time to bring the Senate NDAA into the light of day.
I urge the Senate Armed Services Committee leadership to be at least as open as its House counterparts when conducting business on the NDAA.
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