Rep. Smith Statement on the House Passage of the FY23 NDAA

House Democrats Support Strong, Diverse Military

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 7900, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23), by a vote of 329-101.

“After months of hard work, negotiations, and vigorous debate the House has completed our work to pass the FY23 NDAA. The annual defense bill serves as the legislative foundation for national security policymaking. The United States must meet global challenges with humility and in ways that live up to our values – that’s why this year’s bill includes a package of bold reforms to prevent and mitigate civilian harm in military operations.

“At a time when democracies worldwide face both old and new threats, the FY23 NDAA supports investments in what makes our country competitive around the world and strong at home: a diverse and talented military and civilian workforce; groundbreaking science and technology research, especially at Historically Black Colleges and Universities; and the alliances and partnerships we need to meet our biggest global security challenges. I am especially pleased that this year’s bill supports those who defend our country by giving them the compensation they deserve with a 4.6% pay raise for service members and civilian personnel, as well as relief for their housing and other everyday costs.

“Some will say the bill authorizes too much money for the Department of Defense. They’re right. I supported President Biden’s original budget request and I staunchly opposed efforts to allow further increases in defense spending. But we don’t always win every vote, even in a functioning democracy. And we shouldn’t let the results of one vote outweigh all of the worthwhile things in this bill that we fought for.”

The House’s version of FY23 NDAA includes a range of key national security priorities for House Democrats, copied below, and full summary of the provisions in the FY23 NDAA is available here:

  • Extends vital benefits for service members, their families, and federal workers:
    • Supports a 4.6% pay raise for service members and civilian personnel and includes 2.4% inflation bonuses for service members and DoD civilian personnel earning less than $45,000/year.  
    • Adds $750 million for commissary to help reduce costs for service members and their families.
    • Establishes a $15/hour minimum wage for workers on federal service and construction contracts, applies to all federal agencies.
    • Eliminates TRICARE copays for contraception for one year and increases access to infertility services for service members and their families.
  • Promotes clean energy and climate resilience
    • Requires all main operating bases in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility to adopt installation energy plans to increase energy resiliency and sustainability in order to reduce reliance on Russian energy and sets a DoD goal of eliminating their use of Russian energy entirely.
    • Establishes an energy resilience testbed initiative, requiring each service to designate military instillations to conduct demonstration projects on new energy technologies including energy storage, electric vehicles, building efficiency, clean energy generation, and electrification.
    • Requires DoD to establish a pilot program to transition nontactical vehicle fleets at certain military instillations to electric vehicles.
    • Creates a pilot program on sustainable aviation fuel requiring DoD to collaborate with civilian airfields on the use of sustainable aviation fuel in military aircraft.
    • Requires the DoD to promulgate a policy to increase the recycling of advanced batteries to address rare and strategic mineral shortages.
  • Support for HBCUs and other minority serving institutions, allocating over $111 million for research activities at HBCUs – triple the amount in the President’s budget request – and establishing a pilot program to increase research capacity at minority serving institutions.
  • Civilian harm mitigation measures, including the establishment of a Commission on Civilian Harm and a Center for Excellence in Civilian Harm Mitigation at the Department of Defense.
  • Makes progress towards closure of Guantanamo Bay by omitting the arbitrary statutory prohibitions on the transfer of detainees out of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
  • Addresses Contamination and PFAS Associated with Military Instillations:
    • Requires the DoD to adhere to the strictest relevant standard (state or federal) when conducting environmental remediation of PFAS contamination.
    • Expands the list of non-essential items containing PFAS that DoD is prohibited from procuring for use within DoD.
    • Requires the DoD to send a list of essential uses for PFAS and to report on its progress in minimizing the use of certain non-essential PFOS and PFOA containing items.
    • Requires the DoD to implement Comptroller General recommendations to set goals for the timely clean-up of formerly used defense sites that fall under the military munitions response program.
  • Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs): extends the authorization of this program, the deadline for those who qualify to apply for SIVs, and allows those Afghans wounded during their service to the U.S. Government to apply for the SIV program even if they have not met the one-year minimum employment threshold. This provision reaffirms the commitment to Afghan citizens who, at great personal risk, supported U.S. operations in Afghanistan.
  • New investments in science and technology competitiveness
    • Authorizes a 20 percent increase in basic research funding, strengthening the pipeline of future innovation.
    • Authorizes $500 million to create a new class of biomanufacturing capabilities and facilities, providing a crucial capability to transition products successfully proven in the lab to commercial scale. 
    • Triples investment into the National Security Innovation Network and increases the authorization for the Defense Innovation Unit by over 150 percent.
    • Extends the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs until 2024, ensuring continued engagement with small technology businesses to build innovative solutions to operational challenges.
  • Resources for U.S. allies and partners, including $1 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) and funding for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) and Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI). It also requires Inspector General (IG) oversight of the response to the further invasion of Ukraine, including assistance to Ukraine, and requires semi-annual reporting to Congress on the IG oversight, including contracting, compliance, and end-use monitoring issues.
  • Includes the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow state-legal cannabis businesses to access the banking system. In states across the country, including here in Washington, a lack of banking access for cannabis businesses has posed a public safety risk.
  • Protects public lands by designating millions of acres of public lands as wilderness or potential wilderness area, including lands and rivers on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.
  • Improves the federal government’s efforts to restore and protect the Puget Sound, by including key legislation championed by Representatives Strickland and Kilmer.  
  • Repeals the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, which is important to continue the effort to address outdated authorities.
  • Eliminates the federal sentencing disparity between drug offenses involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine.
  • Permanently reauthorizes the Japanese American Confinement Site (JACS) program to preserve and educate Americans on the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II.