Armed Services Committees Advance Fiscal Year Conference Process at Annual 'Pass the Gavel' Meeting

The bipartisan leadership of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), met today with the conference committee for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA).

This meeting, known as “pass the gavel,” is an opportunity for Members to share their priorities and to continue resolving differences between the defense authorization bills passed separately by the Senate and the House.

Today, we move a step closer to enacting a National Defense Authorization Act for the 60th year in a row,” Sen. Inhofe said. “The ‘pass the gavel’ meeting continues the bipartisan, bicameral spirit that has long been a trademark of the NDAA, and allows us to hear from all the conferees as we negotiate the bill. This year’s NDAA in particular, as I’ve said before, is very much a Member-led bill. Now, we’ve got to keep on working, find agreement on our remaining issues and finalize this conference report. I’m confident we can get this done for the good of our troops and our nation.”

“This is an important bipartisan package to strengthen our military, support our troops, and enhance national security,” said Sen. Reed. “This is another important step in the process and there are still some key components of the NDAA that we must work through with our colleagues. I look forward to continuing the bipartisan commitment to enhancing national security while balancing budgetary realities in a way that enables us to meet evolving challenges now and in the future.”

“The Armed Services Committees represent one of the last true bastions of bipartisanship, and our ability to produce legislation each and every year is proof that the legislative process still works to provide our service members with the resources they need to complete the myriad missions we ask of them, all in defense of our country,” said Rep. Smith. “While this work is difficult, it is of the utmost importance that we show the American people that Congress is still capable of achieving compromise to fulfill our duty to provide for the common defense.”

“The NDAA is the primary way Congress fulfills our constitutional duty to protect the country,” said Rep. Thornberry. “We have managed to pass it for 59 straight years by putting the troops ahead of our own partisan preferences.  If we are able to make that same choice this year, then we should be able to produce a conference agreement everyone can get behind.

Each year, the chairmanship of the NDAA conference committee alternates between the two chambers. This year, HASC Chairman Smith passed the gavel to SASC Chairman Inhofe.

The Senate passed its version of the NDAA, S. 4049, on July 23, 2020, by a vote of 86-14. The House passed its version of the NDAA, H.R. 6395, on July 21, 2020, by a vote of 295-125.