The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee (sometimes called the HAC-D) have reported their separate defense bills to the House of Representatives (both bills purport to address both spending and policy). The House has already debated and passed the HASC's "National Defense Authorization Act" (NDAA); it will soon debate the defense appropriations bill. Let's check out what they’ve drafted and try to figure out which panel is the House’s reigning Pentagon pork king.
The press has covered both bills with multiple daily articles; the House debate, while truncated, got into all sorts of nuts and bolts, including amendments on labor practices in DOD contracting, military depot policy, and protection of sea otters in navy exercise areas, among many other things. In all, there were 141 amendments allowed for debate. That level of legislative and journalistic activity would suggest that the bill and its accompanying “committee report” were thoroughly scrubbed to make sure there were no slimy invertebrates hiding under rocks in the depths of the bill or its report.
Think no such thing.
The sea otters and other minutia addressed in amendments, for example, reflect the energy and thoroughness of lobbyists, not of congressional staff or others. Otherwise, some particularly odious elements of the HASC bill would hopefully have been challenged by one of the very few existing guardians of ethics and governance in the House. Had they or their staffs combed thoroughly through the bill and report they would have uncovered and, I hope, exposed that everlasting object of interest by Members of Congress: pork.
Surely, that’s impossible. Even if reluctantly, Congress reformed itself on pork. Right? Indeed, it says so right here on page 530: