A pair of amendments adopted to the House Armed Services Committee’s version of the next defense policy bill would limit the travel budgets of the Defense Secretary and Navy Secretary’s offices until the panel is briefed on the latest plans for the sea-launched nuclear cruise missile (SLCM) program.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), ranking member on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, introduced the two directives which aim to provide greater oversight into the SLCM program after the service’s previous acting secretary proposed cutting the program in a leaked memo earlier this summer.
For the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Turner’s amendment limits that no more than 75 percent of FY ‘22 funds allocated for travel purposes can be used until the secretary briefs Congress on the Pentagon’s analysis of alternatives to the SLCM.
The provision would cover all OSD personnel besides the defense secretary and the deputy defense secretary.
For the Navy Secretary’s office, the same 75 percent rule for limiting travel funds is applied but in regards to submitting all documents related to the potential elimination of the SLCM program or adjustments to its funding plans.
In June, Turner criticized Thomas Harker, the acting secretary of the Navy at the time, for writing a memo that called for defunding SLCM as part of the service’s next five-year planning guidance and said the move could undermine ongoing international arms control negotiations (Defense Daily, June 15).
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then told lawmakers they were not consulted on the memo and that no such decision has been finalized, with any potential adjustment to be informed by the administration’s upcoming nuclear posture review (Defense Daily, June 10).
The House Armed Services held its full committee markup of its version of the NDAA on Wednesday, but had yet to vote on final passage as of Defense Daily’s deadline.