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Letter to the Senate on the Reed Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

June 10, 2015

Dear Senator:  

On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association (NEA), and the students they serve, we urge you to support Senate Reed’s (D-RI) amendment (SA #1521) to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (S. 1376), which is scheduled for consideration today. This amendment would limit the amount of funding available for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) unless discretionary spending caps are eliminated or increased proportionally for defense and non-defense spending. Votes on this amendment may be scored on the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 114th Congress.  

The underlying bill to this amendment, S. 1376, boosts defense funding beyond the Budget Control Act (BCA) sequester caps through the OCO fund. Failing to provide BCA cap relief to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs would further cut funding for education, health care, job training, etc., In addition, it would also shortchange veterans who receive employment services, transition assistance, and housing support. A measured approach is critical to ensuring America’s children and their families are not bearing the brunt of balancing the federal budget. Under sequestration, NDD spending for 2016 will already fall to its lowest level, tying the lowest level on record as a share of GDP — and then set a new record low in 2017 and every year thereafter.  

Congress should work in a bipartisan fashion and build upon the work of the FY2014-15 Murray-Ryan deal to craft a budget that ends sequester level cuts for NDD and defense programs and leaves room for key investments in formula-funded programs like Title I, IDEA, and Head Start, which help our students most in need. 

We urge you to support Senator Reed’s amendment which ensures that defense and NDD programs are treated equally as the nation works to continue our economic recovery and bolster future growth by making key investments in rebuilding our infrastructure and supporting high-value research and development, in addition to education. Thank you for your consideration on this issue.  

Sincerely,  

Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations