2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Aimee Houghton <aimeeh@cpeo.org>
Date: 21 May 2002 12:56:52 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] More on Defense Streamlining Initiative
[The following is the full text from an article written by Suzanne Yohannan of Inside Washington Publishers. Typically, we take the time to summarize articles provided in other publications or provide links. In this instance (with both Lenny and myself travelling) neither of us would be able to do a summary for hours and we felt the information important enough to get out as soon as possible. --Aimee]

Cheney Backs Changes To Congressional Review That May Clear Way For DOD
Environment Exemptions

In an effort to ease the military's ability to win exemptions from
environmental requirements, sources say the Bush administration at the
direction of Vice President Cheney is preparing to float legislation that
would change congressional rules for considering military-related
legislation. If adopted, the legislation would allow the Defense Department
(DOD) to circumvent key committees that currently oversee environmental
policy, and would limit the procedures for congressional debate on
defense-related legislation.

But the draft is drawing strong criticism from EPA staff and state
officials, who charge that the Bush administration is seeking to stack
congressional rules in favor of easing the military's ability to win
exemptions from environmental laws, as well as other statutory changes
military leaders have been unable to pass under current congressional rules
of debate. The legislation has emerged just weeks after Congress beat back
an earlier proposal attributed to the Pentagon that sought broad relief from
environmental requirements on the grounds that the requirements impeded
readiness training.

EPA staff charge the so-called Defense Streamlining Initiative appears to
allow DOD to bypass the interagency review process before pitching proposals
to Congress. "I do not believe DOD can make a case that the present system
lacks enough flexibility to timely respond to military readiness needs of
DOD that require legislative action," according to EPA staff comments on the
proposal. EPA staff are urging agency officials to recommend that the Office
of Management and Budget (OMB) pull the contentious provisions from the
legislation. At press time, EPA had not sent official comments to OMB, an
EPA source says.

EPA sources also say a substantial number of OMB staff don't want the
measure to go forward because they believe it is "dead on arrival" in
Congress. These sources also say there is no precedent for giving the
secretary of defense, rather than the president, the authority to submit
legislation to Congress.

Nevertheless, administration officials are scheduled to send the legislative
plan to the Senate later this week for inclusion in the fiscal year 2003
defense authorization bill, EPA sources say. Phone calls to spokespersons
for the White House and the vice president's office were not returned.
EPA's criticism comes as DOD appears to have faltered in its efforts to win
exemptions from a host of environmental laws after the House passed only a
stripped down version of DOD's proposal in its defense authorization bill
for FY03. The Senate Armed Services Committee rejected DOD's legislative
package because it did not fall under the panel's jurisdiction. The
committee approved the FY03 defense authorization bill May 9, and the full
Senate is expected to take up the bill soon after lawmakers return from
Memorial Day recess.

The OMB proposal appears to be an attempt to aid Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld's effort to speed consideration of a host of DOD modernization
proposals--something that includes waiving environmental requirements as
well as a number of DOD proposals dealing with other defense issues,
according to one outside expert on defense environmental and industrial

In recent months, Rumsfeld has struggled to win congressional approval for a
host of defense modernization measures, including the environmental
exemptions as well as new base closure legislation and efforts to kill
controversial weapons systems, such as the Army's Crusader field artillery
program. But the defense expert charges that the legislation would give
Rumsfeld "almost dictatorial power" to get legislative measures passed.
A DOD spokeswoman says the department's legislative office was unfamiliar
with the initiative

According to a section-by-section summary, the proposal calls on Congress to
apply existing procedures for expedited consideration of legislation to
so-called defense streamlining legislation. Such legislation could include
measures related to "defense environmental accountability," as well as other
military topics including: defense organization; defense fiscal, accounting
and administrative controls; defense facilities; military and civilian
personnel management and compensation; streamlined and strengthened
relations between Congress and the Department of Defense; defense-related
exports; and defense depot maintenance.

The Cheney-backed proposal draws on an existing statute to allow the
secretary of defense to introduce legislation, which would automatically be
assigned to the House and Senate armed services committees for
consideration. The proposal then applies statutory provisions in a 1985
Defense Appropriations bill that limit opportunities for congressional
debate to any future legislation. Under the 1985 law, committees have only
15 days to consider the legislation after which time it is placed directly
on the House or Senate calendars; lawmakers are barred from raising
procedural motions when considering the legislation; and debate on the
legislation is limited to no more than ten hours.

EPA staff say in their comments that the legislative proposal "appears to
allow DoD to bypass the inter-agency review process that enables the
Administration to put forth legislative proposals that reflect the views of
all affected agencies and departments." Second, EPA says the initiative also
appears "to be an attempt to limit the jurisdiction of the Environment and
Public Works committees to consider legislation affecting environmental
laws." -- Suzanne Yohannan

Date: May 20, 2002
© Inside Washington Publishers

Please note new phone number and address below.
Aimee R. Houghton
Associate Director, CPEO
1101 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC  20036
tel: 202-452-8039; fax: 202-452-8095
Email: aimeeh@cpeo.org

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