U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), annual legislation that authorizes funding for the U.S. military, including our men and women in uniform. Thune emphasized the importance of this historically bipartisan legislation for restoring the nation’s military readiness and preparedness. This year’s NDAA also prioritizes an improved quality of life for U.S. troops through increased pay and improvements in military health care and housing. The Senate passed its version of the NDAA in July by a vote of 84 to 14, and it is currently being reconciled with the House-passed version.
Thune also honored Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), who will be retiring from the Senate at the conclusion of the year. He recognized Enzi as an outstanding legislator and thoughtful human being and expressed his gratitude for Enzi’s commitment to the American people.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, I was pleased that the Senate unanimously agreed yesterday to proceed to conference on the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.
“The NDAA is one of the most important pieces of legislation we pass every year.
“It’s the bill that authorizes funding for our troops and lays out our defense priorities.
“Like the last two NDAAs, this year’s bill focuses on restoring military readiness and ensuring that our nation is prepared to meet threats posed by major powers like Russia and China.
“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.
“Over the past two years, we’ve made real progress on restoring military readiness.
“But we still have more work to do.
“And this year’s National Defense Authorization Act continues our investment in ensuring that our military is prepared to meet current and future threats – in any domain.
“Of course, no matter what weapons or tanks or planes we have, our greatest military resource will always be our men and women in uniform, and this year’s NDAA invests in improving the quality of life for our military members and their families.
“The bill supports a 3 percent pay raise for our troops, and it builds on previous measures to improve military health care and housing.
“It will also provide support for military families in areas like child care and professional development for military spouses.
“Mr. President, as I said, this bill is one of the most important measures we pass every year.
“And we need to make sure that we pass the final version of this legislation before Christmas.
“Failing to pass this legislation would send the wrong message to our troops and our allies – and to our adversaries.
“While this may not be a perfect bill, it contains a lot of important provisions to rebuild our military and give our men and women in uniform the tools they need to defend our nation.
“We need to pass it as soon as possible.
“Mr. President, yesterday afternoon, Mike Enzi delivered his farewell address.
“And while Mike has more than earned his retirement over a long and dedicated career in Washington and in Wyoming, we are going to miss him here in the Senate.
“Mike is an accountant and spent years as a small businessman, and he brought that background – and common sense – to Washington.
“In many ways, he’s been the conscience of the Senate on spending issues, reminding us that we don’t have an unlimited amount of money to spend and that every dollar we add to the debt is a burden that will have to be met by our children and grandchildren.
“As chairman of the Budget Committee, he has passed budgets with an eye to restraining spending and lessening the burden we place on future generations.
“His 2018 budget also paved the way for the landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which reformed America’s outdated tax code, helped create jobs and opportunities for workers, and put more money in the pockets of American families.
“Mike is an outstanding legislator.
“And he’s also one of the finest human beings you will ever meet.
“I think all of us have benefited from his thoughtfulness at one time or another.
“I remember when I was experiencing heel pain a few years back, I mentioned it to Mike, who was a shoe salesman and shoe store owner.
“Well, a few days later, Mike comes up to me with heel inserts for my shoes – which, I might add, helped a lot.
“It was typical of Mike – thoughtful and practical.
“In business, as everyone knows, the customer comes first, and Mike has brought that attitude to his 24 years in the Senate.
“As a shoe salesman, he put his customers first, and as a senator, he’s always put his constituents – and the American people – first.
“He’s never forgotten how to help people, and he has worked hard every day he has been here in the Senate to make life better for Americans.
“He’s an outstanding colleague and friend, and I will miss his wisdom and expertise – and his great fishing stories.
Mike, I wish you the very best of everything in your retirement.
“I’m glad you’ll have more time to spend with Diana and the kids and grandkids, and more time to enjoy Wyoming.
“While no state will ever compare to South Dakota in my book, I’ve got to say that Wyoming is spectacularly beautiful, and I’m glad you’ll be able to be there now full-time.
“But you will be missed.
“Thank you for service and your friendship, and God bless you in your retirement.”