Defense Bill Recap

Last night around midnight, we wrapped up our work on the House defense bill (known as the National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA). It was a marathon day of amendments, votes, and debate on a whole range of national security issues — all streamed live online for the public to see.

Like any bipartisan effort, this was a big, messy, sometimes contentious process. Neither party got everything it wanted. There are provisions in the final bill that I don’t like, and others we fought to include that will be good for our country and our security. That’s the nature of compromise. That’s how our system is supposed to work.

I voted yes on the final bill because it makes some really important investments in our national defense — supporting our service members and their families, funding important training and equipment for our troops, giving our military a pay increase, and supporting Fort Bliss. From here, the Senate will pass its version of the NDAA, and then a conference committee will work to reach a consensus agreement that we can send to the President to be signed into law.

Here are some of the provisions we helped get into the final bill:

  1. Reforming the Transition Assistance Program (TAP): Creates new counseling pathways for service members instead of the current one-size fits all approach; requires service members’ joint services transcripts to be made available to transitioning service members and the VA; and provides service members more flexibility to tailor their TAP experience to best match their needs.
  2. Transparency Website: Creates a new central website where publicly available Department of Defense reports must be posted so that the public can access and search them, helping increase transparency and accountability.
  3. Improved Crime Reporting: Establishes a consolidated tracking process to ensure the timely, automated submission of crime reporting data to the FBI to help reduce human error as much as possible from the process.
  4. Yemen Strategy Report: Requires the Department of Defense to produce a report outlining the Administration’s military strategy for Yemen.

You can also watch video of me discussing two other amendments I supported that weren’t ultimately included in the final bill: the first to prevent Department of Defense funds from being used to build a border wall (here), and the second to prohibit the National Guard from enforcing immigration laws (here).