One of the biggest pieces of bipartisan legislation to be consistently passed in Congress – the annual defense policy bill or National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -- just passed the House today, with my support.
This is big news for our national defense. This bill represents a down-payment on the strong military we need to face the threats to our national security both today and tomorrow, and begins the important work of reforming, repairing, and rebuilding our Armed Forces. Here are the top 10 things you need to know:
- Increases end strength. Builds up the Army, Navy, and Air Force back up to the levels that they have requested.
- Focuses on maintenance and repair. Too many planes, ships, and vehicles are grounded or can’t be used due to a shortage of parts and maintenance. In fact, nearly 2/3rds of Navy strike fighters can’t fly for those reasons. As the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army recently testified: "our Army requires modernized equipment to win decisively -- but today we are outranged, outgunned, and outdated." We need to fix that.
- Strengthens cyber operations. Fully supports the DOD’s defensive and offensive cyberspace capabilities and strategies – which are critical for the 21st century threats we face.
- Makes major reforms to how the Pentagon does business. Requires the Pentagon to rethink its buying practices, including empowering the purchase of commercial products through online sites like Amazon, which are often cheaper and would save taxpayer dollars.
- Provides a pay raise for troops. It’s the least we can do for those who fight for us on the frontlines.
- Supports and equips our allies in the fight against ISIS. Provides U.S. support to our global partners engaged in combatting ISIS and directs the DOD to provide a comprehensive, regional strategy for Syria that describes U.S. long-term objectives in the wake of the combat against ISIS.
- Keeps terrorist detainees at GTMO. Continues the restrictions against transferring GTMO detainees to the U.S. homeland. Watch my speech on the House floor about this, here.
- Boosts missile defense. While total missile defense funding is still well below Bush administration levels, this bill gets us back on track towards strengthening our missile defense systems, which are particularly critical in light of North Korea’s continued aggression.
- Invests in tomorrow’s security. Makes the long-term investments in modernization, research and development necessary for our future Armed Forces to deter threats and preserve peace.
- Invests in space. Requires the creation of a separate Space Corps within the Air Force to give strategic attention to space as a critical aspect of U.S. national security.
For too long, our military resources have been shrinking while threats around the globe are growing. We’ve been asking our Armed Forces to do more with less, forcing them to make impossible trade-offs while Congress put off the tough choices. Today, we took a major step towards changing those trend-lines.
There’s still a long road ahead, but as Ronald Reagan said: “It's up to us, in our time, to choose and choose wisely between the hard but necessary task of preserving peace and freedom and the temptation to ignore our duty and blindly hope for the best while the enemies of freedom grow stronger day by day. The solution is well within our grasp. But to reach it, there is simply no alternative but to continue this year, in this budget, to provide the resources we need to preserve the peace and guarantee our freedom.”
Yours in service,
P.S. I joined the House Leadership Press Conference today to discuss why it's so critical that we fully fund our national defense. Watch my remarks here
. Disagree with me? Check out my answers to folks' social media question on the topic, here
, or shoot me an email, here