National Defense Authorization Act Up Next In Senate
‘The legislation authorizes tens of billions of dollars for new battle-force ships and an expansion of the Joint Strike Fighter program. It lays groundwork for expanding missile defense batteries. And it delivers a $1.4 billion increase in funding for cutting-edge research and development. And from bases across America to posts overseas, the NDAA accounts for the needs of servicemembers and their families. It prioritizes military construction and addressing problems with military family housing.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the need to confirm a new Secretary of Defense and the upcoming Senate debate on the National Defense Authorization Act:
“First, I want to express my gratitude for Acting Secretary Pat Shanahan, whom we learned yesterday will soon be leaving the Department of Defense. The Acting Secretary has served in a crucial post during challenging times and difficult circumstances. His deliberate leadership and steady focus on implementing the National Defense Strategy served the nation, the Pentagon, and the men and women of the armed forces well.
“I respect his decision to withdraw his candidacy, and I hope it will bring an end to the media’s scrutiny of his family. It is unfortunate that this news means we are no closer to having a Senate-confirmed Secretary of Defense in place. As the Senate considers the NDAA this week, the many challenges facing our nation are top of mind.
“We need to modernize our military to meet the challenges posed by Russia and China. We need to stay assertive against global terrorist organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda until they are decisively defeated. We need to continue to reform and enhance critical partnerships from NATO to the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific. And of course, we face an urgent need to deter and defend against Iranian aggression. These challenges and opportunities demand strong leadership.
“So while the Senate still looks forward to considering a nominee to formally serve as the Secretary of Defense, we should take heart in President Trump’s choice for the next Acting Secretary: Mark Esper, our current Secretary of the Army. Mr. Esper is no stranger to the Senate. Among the many impressive stops on his resume, he served with the Foreign Relations Committee and later as national security advisor to then-Majority Leader Frist. Many of us will remember his calming demeanor and professionalism.
“He’s served in several capacities at the Pentagon as well, including as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. And immediately prior to becoming Secretary of the Army, he’d also built a successful career in the private sector. And all of this came after Mr. Esper’s own decorated military service. His graduation from West Point was followed by Army Ranger training, which then led to serving in the Gulf War with the storied 101st Airborne.
“Given the precarious international situation and challenges facing our nation, I’m encouraged that an experienced, tested, and capable leader such as Secretary Esper will be at the helm in the Pentagon. I look forward to working closely with him to defend America and advance our interests.
“Now, on a related matter, later today, the Senate will officially turn to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. Every year, this legislation focuses this chamber on one of our most fundamental constitutional duties: providing for the common defense. Every year, the Senate approves authorizing legislation to address the needs of America’s men and women in uniform.
“Over the past two years, working closely with the Trump Administration on the NDAA has yielded big results. We’ve authorized major investments in everything from new cutting-edge systems, to improved services for military families, to massive strides toward restoring the readiness of our all-volunteer force. But as the headlines are reminding us every day, this is no time to let up. Just the opposite.
“Russia’s designs on eastern Europe and the Middle East have certainly not abated. Nor has Putin’s investment in long-range strike capabilities, from advanced hypersonic weapons to new missiles or stealthy submarines. Nor has China’s increasingly aggressive Pacific strategy. Nor has Iran’s hell-bent commitment to underwriting terrorism and proxy conflicts throughout the Middle East. So this year’s NDAA is built with a heavy emphasis on strengthening our partnerships in the most troubled regions of the world. Of course, it also ensures the United States military will sustain its place as the most prepared, best-equipped, and most lethal fighting force in the world.
“The legislation authorizes tens of billions of dollars for new battle-force ships and an expansion of the Joint Strike Fighter program. It lays groundwork for expanding missile defense batteries. And it delivers a $1.4 billion increase in funding for cutting-edge research and development. And from bases across America to posts overseas, the NDAA accounts for the needs of servicemembers and their families. It prioritizes military construction and addressing problems with military family housing. It streamlines the delivery of benefits through the defense health program. And it locks in a 3.1% pay raise for uniformed personnel.
“Of course, our work on the floor in the coming days is just the last chapter. Our colleagues on the Armed Services Committee and their staffs have been working overtime on this impressive legislation for many weeks. So as we take the next step today, we should thank Chairman Inhofe and our colleagues for their leadership thus far.”
Related Issues: America's Military, Nominations, NDAA, National Security