Vote Explanation for H.R. 2810 — National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018
I voted in support of H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. This bill authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and other related agencies for Fiscal Year 2018.
This bill contains important funding provisions that are beneficial to Massachusetts and the Sixth District, including:
- $49.7 million in funding for MIT Lincoln Labs that enables this Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), located in the Sixth District, to continue conducting critical research on advanced technologies such as microchips, outer space, cybersecurity, and next generation communications, among others.
- $11.4 million for critical upgrades to the Vandenberg Gate at Hanscom Air Force Base to ensure the safety and security of base personnel while providing efficient base access.
- Continued funding for vital programs managed at Hanscom Air Force Base such as $12.6 million for the modernization of the nation’s Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (NC3) system and $417 million for recapitalization of the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS).
- $29.6 million for the Defense Innovation Unit — Experimental (DIUx), which, with sites in Palo Alto, Boston, and now Austin, is making important advances in getting new technologies to our warfighters in the field.
In addition, I was proud to lead several key amendments to the bill that are critical for our national security including:
- Requirement for a Syria strategy: This amendment requires a comprehensive political and military strategy for U.S. policy in Syria to be submitted by the Departments of Defense and State to Congress and the American people within 90 days of enactment. We owe it to the American people, and most of all to our troops, to ensure we have a clear and achievable mission. We can’t get stuck in another endless war.
- Requirement for a post-conflict strategy in Iraq: This amendment requires a periodic report from the Department of Defense, in both classified and unclassified form, on post-conflict stabilization capabilities and an assessment of how forces trained and equipped through the U.S. Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq (OSC-I) are prepared to provide post-conflict security in areas liberated from ISIS. We need to have a plan to ensure the peace, not just win the war, if we want our troops to come home from Iraq for good. Otherwise, we will find ourselves sending them back there yet again.
- Legislative charter for Spirit of America: Spirit of America is a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian and economic assistance in response to local needs identified by deployed U.S. troops and diplomats. This amendment establishes a Congressional charter that allows Spirit of America to continue doing work that will save lives of U.S. servicemembers and improve national security by enabling the Department of Defense, at its discretion, to utilize donated assistance to meet local needs in support of US missions abroad in pre-conflict and humanitarian support missions.
- Military Family Service Corps: This amendment provides military dependents the opportunity to earn monetary educational awards for voluntary service to local military communities across the country.
- Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program: The SIV program affords Afghans who have put their lives on the line for our country, such as interpreters, the ability to resettle in the U.S. when their lives are threatened. Through a bipartisan effort, this program has remained alive and functioning, but the availability of visas has decreased as demand continues. This amendment requires the Department of Defense to brief the committee on the importance of the program to conducting our mission in Afghanistan as Congress considers adding new visas.
I was also proud to join Democrats and twenty-four Republicans in rejecting an amendment offered by Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) that would prohibit the Department of Defense from funding medical care related to gender transition for transgender service members. This amendment is nothing more than a political attack on a group of men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our country. It is an attack on civil rights, and it had no place being included in this legislation.
Passage of the NDAA is critical to both our national security and local economy. The Sixth District plays a crucial role in our national defense, and I’m proud of the work we do to help promote a strong, smart, and strategic approach to foreign policy.