The Project On Government Oversight is working hard to bring transparency to the Senate’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes more than $600 billion in Pentagon spending and many of its wide-ranging policies for the coming year.
From the interview:
TakePart: It’s fairly routine for Washington to spend a ton of money. Why is it important for us to know more about this bill?
Angela Canterbury: This is one of the few bills that Congress passes every year, and it authorizes more than $600 billion dollars in Pentagon spending. It includes many important wide-ranging policies. For the Senate to mark up any of the unclassified provisions of this bill in secret shuts the public out of how a huge chunk of taxes are spent and policies are made.
Last year, not even other members of the Senate were able to influence what eventually became law. There was not, in the end, an opportunity for senators who are not on the Armed Services Committee to amend the bill. There was a lot of frustration around that.
TakePart: What are some examples of controversial programs that were funded by the NDAA and disclosed after the fact?
Canterbury: There was frustration on a handful of issues last year. There weren’t any votes taken on Iran or drones and other hot-button issues. The one issue that did get a public airing was the epidemic of sexual assault in the military. That was a real exception.
An open hearing was held on sexual assault—it was the only part of the NDAA that the full [Senate] committee debated in public. We got to see very thoughtful deliberations. It was an example of how it should work on other aspects of the bill.
Read the rest of the interview on TakePart’s website, and sign POGO’s and TakePart’s petition to open the NDAA here.