As Defense Bill heads to the floor, Thornberry comments on NDAA
Ahead of anticipated floor consideration this week, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following remarks on HR 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020:
“Normally the NDAA is a product of bipartisan consensus that allows Congress to execute our most important Constitutional duty. Unfortunately, partisan provisions in this bill have robbed it of bipartisan support. Through this bill, House Democrats are forcing our troops to pay the price for their political disputes with the President. From personnel accounts, where the NDAA cuts funding to meet an arbitrary topline; to military construction, where critical projects will go unfunded because House Democrats refuse to backfill funding used for border security, our troops will pay the price for Washington’s disfunction.
“The NDAA also ignores the best advice of former Secretary of Defense Mattis, former Acting Secretary Shanahan, and General Dunford- that the military needs 3-5% real growth to keep our competitive edge against Russia and China. Instead, this NDAA is $15 billion short of that goal. It turns back vital investments in nuclear modernization, short changes development of critical technologies, and endangers readiness recovery.
“This week, House Republicans will work to restore critical programs, and with them, the bipartisan support this critical legislation has traditionally enjoyed.”
Issues with the NDAA:
Insufficient Topline: The President presented a budget that reflects the National Defense Strategy and was endorsed by the bi-partisan National Defense Strategy Commission which included former senior Obama officials. The NDAA rejects this consensus and establishes an arbitrary topline of $735 billion. To achieve these reductions the NDAA:
— Cuts personnel accounts by $1.2 billion, the same accounts that fund troop pay, benefits, and housing. Democrat claims that Republicans voted against a pay raise for the troops received “Three Pinoccios” from the Washington Post.
— Cuts critical programs designed to deter Russia and China, including cuts to hypersonics, ship construction, 5G development, and rapid innovation programs.
— Cuts our nuclear deterrent programs, including programs advocated by Obama Administration officials, including ground-based systems, additional low yield weapons, and important safety programs.
— Cuts readiness recovery, just as bipartisan efforts have arrested the readiness crisis. These cuts include cuts to spare parts, ammunition programs, training, and facilities maintenance.
Nuclear Deterrence: The NDAA makes significant reductions to nuclear modernization and recapitalization programs. These programs traditionally receive bipartisan support and many date back to recommendations made by the Obama Administration. In addition to prohibiting the deployment of new low-yield weapons, the NDAA weakens our deterrent posture against Russia and China and defers essential safety upgrades.
Closing GTMO: Taken together, the provisions in the NDAA represent a backdoor effort to force the Administration to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and move terrorists to the United States. The NDAA does not contain the traditional prohibitions against transferring detainees to the United States.
Border Security: The NDAA not only bans construction projects on the border, it places severe restrictions on the military’s traditional missions in supporting border security.
While blocking the use of military funds for border security, the NDAA is so restrictive in how DOD will transfer funds for emerging requirements it could damage our agility.