WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, made 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:
“Today the House sent a strong, bipartisan message to the American people: our service members and our national security are more important than politics. By passing the FY21 NDAA conference report with a veto-proof majority, the House has proven to be capable of legislating and reaching compromise that results in good policy outcomes.
“I was proud to work closely with Vice Chair Anthony Brown, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to take bold steps to promote diversity and inclusion and help address systemic racism in our military institutions. Provisions in the bill will remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia across the military that honor or commemorate the Confederacy and will create a Chief Diversity Officer within the Department of Defense to ensure our military reflects our country’s diversity. The bill adds $20 million in funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and directs the Secretary to partner with minority institutions of higher education and public and private sector organizations to diversify and strengthen the national security workforce.
“The FY21 NDAA also takes important steps to promote the wellbeing of servicemembers and their families, veterans, and the entire federal workforce. It provides a long-sought after benefit for tens of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans who are struggling with health complications after being exposed to Agent Orange while serving their country. The bill will permit most federal employees to carry over an additional 25% of annual leave into 2021 in recognition of their dedicated service during the pandemic. To help protect civilian employees across the federal government from discrimination, the bill includes the Elijah Cummings Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act that would establish independent Equal Employment Opportunity Programs at each federal agency to independently address complaints of discrimination and retaliation. This year’s bill also extends paid parental leave to approximately 100,000 federal civilians inadvertently excluded from last year’s legislation.
“For years, the NDAA has taken important steps to combat climate change and advance green energy initiatives. This bill includes strong provisions to ensure DoD is planning for and mitigating the effects of climate change and implementing energy and climate resiliency requirements in their military installation planning. The bill would also push the DoD to remain a leader in adopting renewable energy and advancing green energy measures through the expansion of hybrid and electric vehicles, microgrids, energy metering and on-site energy production at military facilities, and operational energy research.
“After months of hard work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress, I am proud of our finished product. Given the strength of the bill, I am confident the conference report will receive similarly robust support in the Senate this week before heading to the President’s desk for signature. It is my hope that the President signs the FY21 NDAA into law given how important passage is for our service members and their families, however, I remain confident that Congress will exercise our authority to override a potential veto should he choose to put his ego first.”
A summary of the provisions in the FY21 NDAA is available here.