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Letter to Senate on FY16 Department of Defense Appropriations

June 18, 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 Vote No on the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for FY 2016 (H.R. 2685). This bill would boost defense funding beyond the Budget Control Act (BCA) sequester caps through a budget gimmick by shifting funds through Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), while continuing to ignore the urgent need to provide relief to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. Votes on this issue may be scored on the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 114th Congress.  

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. 

H.R. 2685’s boost to defense funding through the OCO circumvents the Budget Control Act and the FY14-15 Murray-Ryan deal that relief to NDD and defense funding should be treated equally. A measured approach is critical to ensuring America’s children and their families are not bearing the brunt of deep and unnecessary cuts to the federal budget. Under sequestration, NDD spending will already fall in 2016 into a tie for its lowest level on record as a share of GDP — and then set a new record low in 2017 and every year thereafter. Failing to provide BCA cap relief to NDD programs such as education, health care, job training, etc., would also shortchange veterans who receive employment services, transition assistance, and housing support. 

We urge you to oppose H.R. 2685 and instead work to ensure NDD and defense 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, high-value research and development, and job training, in addition to education. Thank you for your consideration on this issue.  


Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations