Congressmen admit to not reading NDAA before voting for it: 'I trust the leadership'

AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski
US House members admitted they had not read the entire $585 billion, 1,648-page National Defense Authorization Act, which predominantly specifies budgeting for the Defense Department, before it was voted on Thursday in Congress.

“Of course not. Are you kidding?” Rep. Jim Moran (D-Virginia) said when asked by CNSNews if he had perused the entire bill, which was just posted online late Tuesday night before it was ultimately passed in by the House by a vote of 300-119 about 36 hours later.

Moran said he did not plan to read the entire bill before voting because “I trust the leadership.”

“Do you think [House Speaker John] Boehner and [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid have read it?” asked CNSNews.

“I know their staff has,” Moran responded.

When pressed directly about his knowledge of every aspect of the massive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015, House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) assured CNSNews he was aware of all aspects of the multi-faceted, complex bill.

“I’ve been through almost every part of that bill, as it was being put together,” he said. “So, trust me, I am well aware of what’s in that bill.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) also indirectly acknowledged the near impossibility for anyone to read such a comprehensive bill. He told CNSNews he had not read the full text, but understands its contents.

“The committees have gone over it, it’s been in conference, and I have an outline of exactly what it does,” he said. “So, I know what it does.”

Upon taking control of the US House in 2010, Republicans maintained that they would allow the public to read full text of bills at least three days before they are voted on in the Lower Chamber. This promise materialized, in part, from a quote by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2010, when her Democratic Party controlled the House and help shepherd the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, through Congress.

“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it, away from the fog of the controversy,” Pelosi infamously stated of the hot-button legislation. While she may have been alluding to what she believed to be the bill’s future popularity, following the rancor and oft-disputed claims - death panels - surrounding the debate over what the legislation meant for a sensitive issue like health care, the line was used as a political cudgel to help the GOP regain the House later that year.

Yet, Republicans voted on the 2015 NDAA after the full bill had been available to read - for both the public and members of Congress - just 36 hours prior, as pointed out by InfoWars.

The legislation will now get a vote in the Senate, likely next week.

The NDAA is annual legislation that directs budgeting and expenditures for the US military. The bill passed in the House on Thursday “authorizes $521 billion in base discretionary spending for Defense Department activities, as well as $64 billion for overseas contingency operations,” according to The Hill.

The legislation authorized $6.6 billion for operations against Islamic State, the extremist group that is the target of US-led airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. That funding to combat Islamic State includes authorization of the deployment of 1,500 additional US forces and funding to train and supply Iraqi security forces over the next two years.

"I really wish to emphasize that the train-and-equip mission is just that. It in no way, shape, manner or form authorizes the use of military force," said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington), the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

The 2015 NDAA targeted US soldiers with cuts to benefits and other services.

“The bill also reduces benefits for troops and their families. It would raise the copay by $3 for most pharmaceuticals under Tricare, the military health insurance plan,” The Hill added.

The legislation also included cuts to subsidies for military commissaries, where US service members buy groceries, by $100 million.

In addition, such massive, must-pass bills are chocked full of “pork,” or just about anything a House member, especially those with clout, can pass by House leadership and the various committees that have domain over the bill’s attributes.

For example, as RT reported Wednesday, the 2015 NDAA includes a handful of land deals including one that gives a foreign mining company 2,400 acres of national forest in Arizona that is cherished ancestral homeland to Apache natives.

“Since time immemorial people have gone there. That’s part of our ancestral homeland," Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, told The Huffington Post. "We’ve had dancers in that area forever - sunrise dancers - and coming-of-age ceremonies for our young girls that become women. They’ll seal that off. They’ll seal us off from the acorn grounds, and the medicinal plants in the area, and our prayer areas.”

Previously, the House refused an amendment to the NDAA of 2014 that would have repealed a controversial provision placed in the NDAA of 2012 that has ever since provided the executive branch with the power to arrest and detain indefinitely any US citizen thought to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda or associated organizations. The House also rejected last year an amendment that would have expedited the shut-down of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In January of 2014, the US Supreme Court decided against weighing in on a challenge to Section 1021(b)(2) of the 2012 NDAA, which can be interpreted in a way that allows for the government to detain without trial any American citizen accused of committing a “belligerent act” against the country “until the end of hostilities.”