U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), legislation that would give our troops the funding they need to best defend our country. Although this legislation has been held up by Democrats for far too long, Thune is hopeful they will come to the table and pass this critical defense funding bill before the end of the year.
Click here to watch Thune’s opening statement.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, I’m very pleased to hear that a deal has been reached to finally advance the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
“Every year, Congress takes up the National Defense Authorization Act to authorize funding for our military and our national defense.
“Like last year’s NDAA, this year’s bill focuses on rebuilding our military and ensuring we are prepared to meet 21st century threats.
“While many take it for granted that we have the strongest military in the world, in recent years our military advantage over near-peer adversaries has eroded.
“Budgetary impasses combined with increased operational demands left our military under-manned, under-equipped, and ill-prepared for the conflicts of the 21st century.
“In November 2018, the bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission released a report warning that our readiness had eroded to the point where we might struggle to win a war against a major power like Russia or China.
“And the commission noted that we would be especially vulnerable if we were ever called on to fight a war on two fronts.
“That’s not a good position to be in, and restoring our readiness has been – and must continue to be – our top priority.
“This year’s National Defense Authorization Act continues our efforts to rebuild our military.
“It invests in the planes, combat vehicles, and ships of the future, including the Joint Strike Fighter and the future B-21 bomber, which will be based at Ellsworth Air Force Base in my home state of South Dakota.
“It authorizes funding for research and development and advanced technology.
“It also focuses on ensuring we are equipped to meet new threats on new fronts, including in the space and cyber domains.
“And of course, this bill invests in our most valuable resource – our men and women in uniform.
“The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes a 3.1 percent pay increase for our troops, the largest increase in a decade.
“This is not only something our troops have earned; it’s also an important way to increase retention in our all-volunteer force.
“This year’s National Defense Authorization Act also focuses on addressing the recent significant health and safety issues with private on-base housing.
“And it contains measures to support military spouses seeking employment and increase access to child care on military installations.
“Mr. President, I’m glad we’re finally on track to get this important legislation done.
“The final bill is not perfect, but it will help ensure that our military receives the resources it needs to meet current threats and prepare for the threats of the future.
“I’m also encouraged by the fact that it looks like Democrats have decided to work with us to get fiscal year 2020 defense appropriations passed before Christmas.
“Needless to say, the 2020 defense appropriations bill is critical legislation that provides funding for current and future military priorities.
“It provides funds to support that pay increase for the men and women who keep us safe.
“It provides funding for the weapons and equipment our troops need right now to carry out their missions.
“It provides funding for the equipment and technology that our military will need to defeat the threats of the future.
“It provides funding for missile defense.
“For research and development.
“For ships, planes, and combat vehicles to update our aging fleets.
“It also provides funding for our allies, including $250 million in military assistance for Ukraine.
“This is a critical national security bill, and it needs to be enacted as soon as possible.
“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get this legislation done sooner, before the start of the new fiscal year in October.
“Delaying defense funding has left our military short of the resources it needs and unable to start important new projects.
“But I’m glad that Democrats are finally willing to work with us on this legislation.
“It’s time to get this bill done so that we can get our men and women in uniform the resources they need without further delay, as well as uphold our security commitments to friends and allies.
“I hope negotiations will continue to move forward and that we can get this legislation to the president’s desk within the next two weeks.”