CD136: Building WWIII

The deadline to fund the government has passed and only one section of the government was funded in full for 2017: Military Construction and the Veteran's Administration. In this episode, analyze the wisdom of the the military construction projects that are soon to begin and learn about the rest of the law that extended current funding for eleven out of twelve sections of our government until December 9th.

Also in this episode, Jen admits a big mistake, an outline of the "9/11 victims bill", some suggestions to help you research your Election Day ballot, and the longest Thank You segment in Congressional Dish history.


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Bill Highlighted In This Episode

H.R. 5325: Continuing Appropriations and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriates Act 2017 and ZIKA Response and Preparedness Act

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017

Department of Veterans' Affairs

  • Provides over $103 billion for Veteran's benefits
  • Provides approximately $56 billion for the Veteran's Administration and veteran's medical expenses.
  • Provides approximately $7.2 billion in additional funding for private health care for veterans.
  • Adds whistleblower protections and procedures
    • Whistleblowers will submit paperwork to their supervisor; if the supervisor finds it to be legit, the whistleblower will be informed of transfer opportunities.
    • Whistleblowers will have to provide their name and contact information
    • A central whistleblower office will handle all whistleblower complaints, and will have a hotline for anonymous complaints
    • Supervisors can be suspended and/or removed for failing to act on a whistleblower complaint, restricting an employees ability to file a complaint, or conducting a negative peer review or retaliating against a whistleblower.
    • Supervisors who are suspended or removed can have their bonuses denied or rescinded.
  • Includes $1.5 billion for Hepatitis C drug, which is $840 million above the request

Zika Response & Preparedness

  • $394 million, available until September 30, 2017, will be put in the "Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund" and be used for:
    • Stockpiles of "products purchased"
    • Purchase of and insurance for motor vehicles in foreign countries
    • Construction, alteration, or renovation of "non-federally owned facilities" at State and local laboratories
    • From Explanatory Statement: "Within the funds provide for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a robust level of funding is intended to support mosquito control efforts conduct by State, county, or municipal programs, including mosquito control districts."
  • $387 million, available until September 30, 2017, will be used for:

    • To response to Zika "and other vector-borne diseases domestically and internationally"
    • To develop and purchase vaccines
    • For health care for mothers and children
    • To reimburse States for health care costs related to Zika that aren't covered by private insurance
    • For projects in Puerto Rico and other territories for mothers and children
  • $152 million, available until September 30, 2017, will be used for:

    • Zika research
    • Vaccine development
  • $145 million will go to "Global Health Programs" for:

    • Mosquito control (spraying)
    • Vaccines
    • The money can be donated to the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund, the Pan American Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Food and Agriculture Organization
    • Money is prohibited from being spent on "the Grand Challenges for Development" program
  • $15 million will go to the State Department

  • $10 million will go to USAID

  • Money can be used by Dept. of Health and Human Services, the State Department, and USAID to hire people to "perform critical work relating to Zika response"

  • The money can be transferred to and merged with other accounts as long as Congress is informed

Continuing Appropriations

  • Extends current funding for the other 11 divisions of government until December 9, 2016.
  • $174,000 is appropriated for the family of former Rep. Mark Takai
Explanatory Statement for H.R. 5325

Missile Defense

"European Reassurance Initiative"

  • Announced in 2014, EIR is designed to increase" the presence and joint training activities of U.S. military forces in Europe".
    • The Department of Defense requested four times the money for ERI for 2017; they want an increase from $789 million in 2016 to over $3.4 billion.
    • The request would support 5,100 active and reserve personel in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM)
    • More than double requested for "Improved Infrastructure", from $89 million in 2016 to $217 million in 2017.
      • Explanatory Statement: “Although ERI military construction funding was originally intended to be a one-time only investment, the evolving nature of the threat has prompted the DoD to expand its plans for investing in military construction to support the continual presence of U.S. rotational military forces in Europe, increased training activities with European allies, and the prepositioning of Army combat-ready equipment in Poland to support and armored brigade combat team.”
      • Plans include a $200 million facility for prepositioning Army combat brigade equipment in Poland and nine Air Force projects in Germany that will cost $260 million.
    • Huge increase in funding for "Enhanced Prepositioning", from $57.8 million in 2016 to $1.9 billion in 2017.

S. 2040: Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA)

"International terrorism"

  • Does NOT include any act of war

No Immunity for Foreign States

  • "A foreign state shall not be immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States in civil cases, seeking money, for injuries, damage to property, or deaths occurring in the United States and caused by an "act of international terrorism in the United States" or "acts of the foreign state, or of any official, employee, or agent of that foreign state while acting within the scope of his or her office"…regardless of where the act occurred.
  • A foreign state can not be sued for negligence

Stay of the Civil Action

Applicability

  • Applies to injuries caused to a person, property, or business on or after September 11, 2001.

Sound Clip Sources

  • Hearing: Oversight of the European Reassurance Initiative, House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, July 13, 2016.

    • Witnesses:
      • Major General David Allvin: J-5, US Air Force, US European Command (EUCOM)
      • Rachel Ellehuus: Principal Director, Europe & NATO Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense
      • Tom Tyra: G-3/5/7, US Army
    • Timestamps & Transcripts
      • {06:10} Chairman Vicky Hartzler (MO)– "Foremost of these challenges is a resurgent Russia."
      • {08:12} Rep. Jackie Speier (CA)– "Recent events in Europe have underscored this threat. For example, Russia has occupied Crimea and has fomented the continuing separatists struggle in eastern Ukraine. Across Europe and in particular along Russia’s border, the threat of Russian intervention is on many people’s minds."
      • {11:45} Major General David Allvin – "The strategic environment in Europe has changed drastically over the past 30 months. One of the key reasons for the growing instability has been Russian malign influence, coercion, and aggression against NATO allies and other partner nations. Since the illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian activity in the Donbass region of Ukraine, the potential for Russia to further advance their military adventurism into NATO countries has demanded a strong response. We at U.S. European Command have been working to assure our allies that our commitment to Article 5 of the Atlantic Treaty is iron clad."
      • {15:59} Rachel Ellehuus– "The three challenges that I see post-Warsaw, and as we continue to think about the future of ERI, are, firstly, institutional adaptation—we need to find a way to make NATO more agile in terms of its decision making, command structure, and defense planning; secondly, defense investment—and that’s not just monetary but also in terms of political will—we need to encourage folks to continue to increase their defense spending and to support operations both within the European and transatlantic theater and further afield; and finally, we need to combat internal political challenges and resist those who seek to divide us or undermine the international security order."
      • {18:10} Major General David Allvin -"We find that within the European theater, we see a more aggressive Russia that is influencing on the periphery states of NATO, and so given the current correlation of forces that might exist in a conflict, specifically with the United States, we do not have nearly the forces we had after 25 years of the degradation of the forces in Europe. This has been understandable because there have been other national-security priorities that have actually taken precedence in other parts of the world. However, we find ourself now with smaller number of forces from all services, as well as the appropriate equipment, in order to be able to field and to respond to any other Russian aggression, and I would say that what ERI has done is it is rapidly enabled us to reverse that trend."
      • {20:35} Rachel Ellehuus -"So we’ve seen the French carrier, Charles de Gaulle, deploy in the Middle East to help us with some of our stress on our naval and maritime Forces, we’ve seen cooperative arrangements to use one another’s bases, and we’ve seen host nations stepping up. So when we send our forces to the Baltic states, host nations such as Poland and the Balts are stepping forward to provide that infrastructure and support."
      • {26:40} Rep. Jackie Speier -"You had indicated to me privately that the troops that we will have stationed as part of ERI would be engaged in military exercises, and you had suggested that the numbers may be as high as a hundred per year, some smaller, some larger. How many of these are air shows?" Major General David Allvin: "Ma’am, I actually wouldn’t put an air show in the—" Rep. Speier: "Good." Major General Allvin: "—category of exercise. When we refer to these exercises, and when I say a hundred, some of these are small, maybe company-level exercises, but these are building that understanding that cohesion at the unit level, and I would say those are the most prolific. However, with the initial funding we’ve been able to receive through ERI, we’re able to have exercises at the larger level, the battalion level and above, which really help us understand the inner operability between formations, because we understand that U.S. European Command will not be the sole entity that will have to defend against Russian aggression; we will be fighting with our allies and partners in the region. And so these broader exercises, these higher-level exercises, really enhance that confidence to be able to fight and maneuver and do combined-armed warfare beyond just the United States but in the coalition."
      • {29:33} Tom Tyra -"In the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, you would see 80 M1 tanks and 140 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 18 artillery systems, a number of mortar systems and smaller pieces of equipment. So we would end up with that plus the support vehicles that enable that to fight. Then, there would be a rotating brigade that would bring identical sets of equipment. As you delivered the Fires Brigade, you would expect, a another hundred or so artillery systems, either tube or rocket launched to be added to that Fires Brigade."
      • {52:16} Rep. Beto O’Rourke (TX) – "What are the potential risks of this strategy? What could go wrong?" Major General David Allvin: "So, you actually touched on it very well, Congressman, is that there is an escalation risk here."

Suggested Congressional Dish Episodes

Topic: Ukraine

Topic: Syria

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Additional Reading


Additional Information


Hear Jen On…

Rhodes to Success: Listener Supported Political Podcasting with Jen Briney


Music Presented in This Episode


Cover Art

Design by Only Child Imaginations

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