SASC Completes Markup of Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act
U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced that the Committee had advanced the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 25-2. During the subcommittee and full committee markups of the legislation, the Committee considered 391 amendments and adopted 229 bipartisan amendments. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.
“This year marks the 60th year in a row that the Committee has fulfilled our Constitutional duty to provide for the common defense by advancing the National Defense Authorization Act — once again with overwhelming support. There’s a reason for this: It’s because this bill is, to its core, bipartisan, reflecting equal input from Republicans and Democrats alike. There isn’t too much Congress does anymore on a bipartisan basis and for so many consecutive years — but we all agree that supporting our troops and defending our nation are two of our most important priorities,” Senator Inhofe said.
“Building on the last two years, this year’s NDAA charts a decisive course of action to implement the National Defense Strategy, regain a credible military deterrent, and, ultimately, achieve a lasting peace, not only for us, but for our children and grandchildren,” Senator Inhofe said. “It does so by prioritizing strategic competition with China and Russia, particularly in the Indo-Pacific theater, investing in a modern, lethal joint force, spurring innovation at every level of the Pentagon, and, of course, ensuring our troops have the training, equipment, and resources they need to succeed in their missions. I thank Senator Reed for his partnership and the entire Committee for their input and work. Next up — I look forward to another overwhelming show of support when it receives swift consideration on the floor.”
“This bipartisan NDAA is a needed step toward strengthening national security and prioritizing national defense resources. It provides our troops with a well-deserved pay raise and tools to protect the health and well-being of our forces and their families. I commend Chairman Inhofe for his bipartisan leadership, collaboration, and commitment to ensuring our troops have a budget and policies to match their extraordinary courage and sacrifice,” said Senator Reed.
The NDAA supports a total of $740.5 billion in fiscal year 2021 funding for national defense, in line with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019. Within this total, the legislation authorizes a base defense budget of $636.4 billion for the Department of Defense and $25.9 billion for national security programs within the Department of Energy. The NDAA also authorizes $69 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations and $8.15 billion for military construction. The bill prudently aligns this funding to enhance national security, advance our national interests and achieve irreversible momentum in implementation of the National Defense Strategy.
Caring for Our All-Volunteer Force and Their Families
The committee takes its obligation to our men and women in uniform and their families seriously. The NDAA authorizes funding and includes policies that will improve quality of life for those who sacrifice so much in defense of our nation. The legislation provides for the requested 3 percent pay raise for our troops and prioritizes support for family readiness, including spouse employment opportunities and child care. Troop end strength is authorized largely in line with the Administration’s request, but reflects a cautious approach, due to the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on recruitment and training. The bill also ensures previous reforms to the military privatized housing program and to the military health system are implemented to rigorous standards, and reemphasizes a focus on training to ensure our service members can conduct their missions safely.
Accelerating Implementation of the National Defense Strategy
The National Defense Strategy underpins the FY21 NDAA, guiding its policies and investments. To deter, fight and win against strategic competitors, our forces must be in the right places, at the right time, with the right capabilities and equipment. The FY21 NDAA positions the U.S. military for success — bolstering development of joint capabilities, emphasizing a combat-credible forward posture and ensuring the United States can compete effectively with China and Russia. Critically, the NDAA prioritizes the Indo-Pacific theater by establishing the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) to focus resources on credibility gaps in the region and enhancing transparency and oversight. Throughout the bill, alliances and partnerships are strengthened and enhanced.
Maintaining or Regaining our Military Superiority
The FY21 NDAA acknowledges the need to restore, maintain or expand our comparative advantage over China and Russia, particularly for key capabilities and technologies like hypersonic weapons, biotechnologies and cybersecurity. The bill spurs innovation to allow the United States to attain asymmetric military advantage. The bill directs investments and supports equipment, weapons platforms and programs that will protect our military supremacy in the seas, in the skies, in space, in cyberspace, and on land, including next-generation aircraft, battle force ships design and nuclear modernization. The bill promotes the concept that the best way to preserve peace around the world is through a credible and effective military deterrent — ensuring that our adversaries receive the message that under any circumstances, they will never win a fight against the United States.
Creating a More Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Organization within the Pentagon
The third tenet of the National Defense Strategy is to “reform the Department’s business practices for greater performance and affordability.” As such, the NDAA implements policies, targets investments and directs oversight that ensures the Department of Defense will be a more responsive steward of taxpayer dollars and a more responsive support system for our troops in the field, with the most efficient and effective management possible. Building on reforms enacted in years past, the legislation reforms the Pentagon’s budgeting process and addresses how the Pentagon recruits and retains top civilian talent, particularly in high-demand science, technology and acquisition fields. The ongoing pandemic exposed and exacerbated weaknesses in the supply chain, and the NDAA works to repair these gaps, improve resiliency of the supply chain and strengthen the defense industrial base as a whole.