Military bands are under the Congressional knife, and may be cut for good. There is something you can, AND MUST, do. And it will only take a few minutes of your time to make your voice heard by your elected representatives.
The US House of Representatives has passed HR 5293, Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2017. In that Act, at the very end under Title X - Additional General Provisions is a small section, Section 10010, that essentially guts the mission of military bands.
I don't want to focus on the politics of who/what/when/how/why. It doesn't matter now. The section is there, and it reads as follows:
SEC. 10010. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for performances by a military musical unit (as defined in section 974 of title 10, United States Code) described in paragraph (2)(B) or (3) of subsection (a) of such section.
This means that with a reduced mission there will be reduced funding, and with reduced funding the entire military music program will collapse.
There is something you can, and must, do to help remove this section from what may become law. I have outlined steps you may take to contact your elected representatives and make your voice heard. It is very easy and simple to do, and will only take a few minutes of your time.
Defense Appropriations is 'must pass' legislation. The President WILL sign the bill into law, whether that section is there, or not. But it does not have to be there. The US Senate must pass the same bill as the House does, and if it does not, then the bill will go into conference committee to hammer out the differences between the two versions. Once a bill is negotiated that both chambers will vote for, the bill will go onto the President's desk for his signature. He will not veto that bill.
So, what you can do is pressure your two US Senators to strike that language from the Senate bill, or at least keep it from being included. The Senate's version of the bill is known as S. 3000. If Section 10010 is not in S. 3000, then the conference committee will work out the differences. At that time, the language in Section 10010 can go back into the bill, even if it's not in S.3000. (Remember, spending bills have to originate in the House, and this bill has already passed the House with the language in it.)
Once the conference committee has it, then more pressure can be brought to bear from both your US Senators AND your US Representative. It is crucial, if you wish to save the missions of military bands, that contact your US Senators now. Then you must follow up and contact your Senators and your Representative.
Here are the references you need to know, followed by sample language you may copy and edit as you see fit.
Information about HR 5293 is here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5293
Information about S 3000 is here:
Information about CONTACTING SENATORS is here:
Information about FINDING AND CONTACTING YOUR US REPRESENTATIVE is here:
Your action plan should be as follows:
1. Contact BOTH your Senators and ask them to strike Section 10010 from S 3000, or keep the language out. (I don't know if the language is in S. 3000 yet.) Tell them your REASONS. Use the contact information linked above, and if you wish, the sample language below.
2. After the Senate passes the bill, which we hope will NOT have the language in it, contact BOTH your Senators again and your US Representative to pressure their colleagues on the Conference Committee (assuming they themselves are not on that committee) to LEAVE OUT Section 10100, and to continue to allow the DOD to fund military musical unit performances. Petitioning the White House to signal a veto will be forthcoming if the language is in is almost meaningless, but you could do it at this point.
3. If the final bill that goes to the President has the offending language, then you should petition the President to veto it, but that will not happen. This is an appropriations act, and the President will sign it.
You MUST WORK NOW to influence your Senators to leave the language out of S. 3000. It is the ONLY WAY that we can hope to win this fight. It will only take a few minutes of your time, and it may affect the future of music in our country for years to come.
SAMPLE LETTER TO YOUR US SENATOR:
Dear Senator :
HR 5293, Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2017, has passed the House of Representatives. As you know, it is "must pass" legislation. The companion bill before you in the Senate is S. 3000.
I strongly urge you to OPPOSE language in S. 3000 similar to that of HR 5293 Title X - Additional General Provisions, Section 10010, to wit, "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for performances by a military musical unit (as defined in section 974 of title 10, United States Code) described in paragraph (2)(B) or (3) of subsection (a) of such section."
Section 10010 effectively eliminates our military bands program. Military bands would be allowed for ceremonial purposes, only.
Our military bands provide several vital functions to our nation beyond ceremonial functions to the armed forces. Bands are an effective recruitment tool, a strong positive force for public relations, a vital cultural resource, and a source of national pride.
Funds to run our military bands make up less than one tenth of one percent of the total military spending budget. While a small part of spending, the bands are the most visible reminder to our citizens that our military supports our values every bit as much as they support our property, lives, and livelihoods.
I strongly urge you to oppose Section 10010, both in S. 3000, and in conference committee. This legislation must be passed, but it can be passed without gutting our military bands.
Dave and Chris are brass technicians who enjoy helping players get the most out of their playing experience.