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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).