Congressman Smith Statement on House Passage of FY21 National Defense Authorization Act
July 21, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after the House passed H.R. 6395, the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 with strong bipartisan support:
“Following months of bipartisan collaboration, the House passed the NDAA today with key provisions to support our service members and their families, honor the values of our country, and advance America’s leadership. This bill takes serious steps to address two crises our country is currently grappling with: the COVID-19 pandemic and systematic racism.
“I worked closely with House Armed Services Committee Vice Chair Anthony Brown (D-MD), the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus to take bold steps to promote diversity and inclusion and help address systemic racism in our military institutions. The bill requires the Department of Defense to change the names of all military bases named for individuals who served in the Confederacy and prohibits the public display of the Confederate flag on Department of Defense installations. The bill also establishes a Chief Diversity Officer within the DoD and each of the services, establishes a Military Diversity Leadership Commission, and requires a strategy to increase diversity within the DoD to be representative of the U.S. population.
“This year’s bill also takes important steps to ensure that any domestic deployment of federal law enforcement officers or active-duty troops is transparent by adding guardrails to any future use of the Insurrection Act. Thanks to House Democrats, the NDAA also requires federal law enforcement officers to clearly display their name and agency on their uniforms so no administration can abuse its power to undermine civil rights, peaceful protests, and sow fear and discord across the country.
“The FY21 NDAA limits the President’s ability to transfer military construction funding under his emergency authority, thus preventing President Trump from raiding military construction projects to pay for his vanity wall on the Southern border.
“The NDAA strengthens our nation’s ability to prepare for and respond to pandemics by establishing a $1 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund. The bill takes a comprehensive approach with investments in research and development, biological threat detection and reduction, and supply chain resiliency. In addition, the bill helps ensure a coordinated, government-wide approach to pandemics by re-establishing a lead for pandemic response within the Administration and creating an Interagency Review Council to implement the Global Health Security Agenda.
“For years, the NDAA has taken important steps to combat climate change and protect the environment. This bill includes some of the strongest provisions we have ever had when it comes to promoting public lands, combating climate change, and protecting the health of our communities from contamination associated with PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ around military installations. The bill designates millions of acres of public lands as wilderness or potential wilderness areas, preserving and protecting these public lands to improve biodiversity, safeguard water quality, and protect wildlife habitat. This includes legislation from Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) to protect roughly 131,000 acres of public lands and add over 450 miles to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System on Washington's Olympic Peninsula.
“I fought for provisions in this bill to ensure U.S. foreign policy better reflects our values. The NDAA continues my work with Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) and our colleagues on the Congressional Progressive Caucus to put an end to the genocide in Yemen. This year we successfully included an amendment to prohibit the use of DoD funds to provide logistical support for air strikes to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and prohibit DoD personnel from participating in hostilities against the Houthis without authorization from Congress.
“The bill takes a strong stance against new live nuclear testing by prohibiting any funds for such use in FY 2021. Additionally, the bill does not contain restrictions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States, which have historically been included in the NDAA.
“This year’s NDAA puts the Department of Defense civilian and military workforce front and center. As a longtime proponent of labor unions, I am especially pleased that we were successful in prohibiting the DoD from excluding any civilian employees from their collective bargaining rights. The bill also establishes pay equity for civilian employees to ensure these workers are paid fairer wages. For our service members, the bill once again includes a 3 percent military pay raise. Additionally, the bill updates the minimum health and safety standards for all military base housing and implements additional provisions ensuring accountability and transparency from private housing companies.
“This is a strong bipartisan bill that the House was able to craft, which would not have been possible without the leadership and dedication of my colleagues. This year’s bill honors America’s values by encouraging diversity and inclusion in the military, taking steps to address systemic racism in our military institutions, and prioritizing a comprehensive approach to strengthen our national security.”
A summary of the provisions in the FY21 NDAA is available here.