July 21, 2020

New Democrat Coalition Chair and National Security Task Force Co-Chairs Statement on NDAA

Today, New Democrat Coalition (NDC) Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and NDC National Security Task Force Co-Chairs Anthony Brown, Brad Schneider, and Abigail Spanberger released the following statements on House passage of the William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 by a large bipartisan majority, a strong bill that ensures America is prepared to meet the global challenges of the 21st century.

“This bipartisan NDAA includes critical investments to improve the quality of life of our service members, their families, and the civilian workforce that are the lifeblood of our defense communities,” said NDC Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06). “This legislation puts the New Democrat Coalition’s national security principles into action with historic investments in improving readiness, strengthening alliances, and ensuring our uniformed men and women and their families have the compensation and support they need. This bill puts us on a path toward restoring global leadership in the 21st century, and the New Dems want to recognize our coalition member Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, for his extraordinary leadership throughout this process.”

“This legislation advances progressive ideals to support our servicemembers, improve readiness, sharpen our combat edge as well as foster American leadership and our alliances,” said House Armed Services Vice Chair and 30-year Army veteran and NDC National Security Task Force Co-Chair Anthony Brown (MD-04). “At a pivotal moment in this country’s painful history with race, we advance initiatives to push our armed services to once again lead on racial justice and create a culture that promotes and celebrates the diversity that makes America strong.”

“This year’s defense authorization provides our nation’s service members with the resources they need to succeed and upholds the values of our nation with investments in supporting veterans transitioning home and fighting domestic terror,” said NDC National Security Task Force Co-Chair Brad Schneider (IL-10). “Now more than ever, Boots to Business is an invaluable training program for servicemembers transitioning into civilian life and a struggling economy. It’s already trained more than 100,000 servicemembers on the essentials of entrepreneurship and business management. With my amendment to the NDAA, this Obama-era program would be codified into law.”

“Our servicemembers are the bedrock of a smart national security strategy, and this bill provides them with the compensation, tools, and training they need to keep our nation safe. And at a time when we risk ceding U.S. global leadership in the fights against COVID-19 and the climate crisis, this year’s defense bill reasserts the strategic importance of our alliances and partnerships around the world,” said NDC National Security Task Force Co-Chair Abigail Spanberger (VA-07). “In this moment of significant health and economic uncertainty, I’m proud to support this bill’s provisions to expand paid parental leave to federal civilian employees, give our troops a much-deserved pay raise, and strengthen our nation’s resilience in the face of future pandemics. I stand with my colleagues on the New Democrat Coalition National Security Task Force as we work together to build a Defense Department that takes care of those who put on the uniform while also staying focused on the tremendous challenges ahead.” 

“At this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, and in an increasingly divisive political climate, for the 60th consecutive year the Congress has proven that our constitutional obligation to ‘provide for the common defense’ is far more important than politics,” said NDC Representative Adam Smith (WA-09), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “I am incredibly proud of the work that the House Armed Services Committee was able to accomplish this year, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and strongly believe the FY21 NDAA is an excellent piece of legislation that delivers for our military. Thanks to the work of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, the bill we passed today supports our troops, reflects our values, and provides for a strong national defense.”

Specifically, the NDAA:

  • Gives Our Troops a Pay Raise & Protects Their Safety: authorizing a 3 percent military pay raise, protecting their health by cleaning up s harmful chemicals on installations, investing in housing improvements for military members and families, and advancing justice in safety with improvements to sexual assault prevention and response.
  • Reaffirms Commitments to Allies around the Globe: Expressing the sense of Congress that the U.S. must continue to strengthen its alliances and partnerships, maintain forward-deployed forces, and that alliances and partnerships are the cornerstone of U.S. national security. This includes limits on force reduction in Europe, commitments to a presence in the Indo-Pacific, and continued support for partners in Iraq and Syria countering the threat of ISIS.
  • Strengthens America’s Health & Economic Security: with important fixes to expand paid parental leave for certain federal civilian employees inadvertently omitted originally, initiatives to combat the climate crisis, and proactively strengthening our nation’s defenses to future pandemics, including with a $1 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund.
  • Responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic: proactively strengthens our nation’s defenses to pandemics including with a $1 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund, boosts America’s industrial base resilience, helps Maritime Security Program carriers keep ships fully crewed during COVID-19, supports NATO’s multinational response to the pandemic, and provides funds to the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program with an increased focus on cooperative biological engagement to detect and confront biological threats.
  • Provides for Removing the Names of Confederates from Our Military Bases: Requires DOD to identify, report on a process and change the names of all military bases and infrastructure named for individuals who took up arms against America by serving in the Confederacy, with the process to be completed in one year.  Also prohibits the public display of the Confederate flag on Department of Defense installations.
  • Creates a More Diverse Military:  Creates a Special Investigator focused on combating racial disparities in the Military Justice System and in personnel policies and practices, establishes Chief Diversity Officers throughout the military, and creates initiatives for increasing representation of women and minorities in the military services.

More information can be found in the House Armed Services Committee full and short summary of the NDAA.

The NDC has long-worked collaboratively to identify and advance tough and smart national security and foreign policy solutions that keep our citizens and country safe, maintain peace and security throughout the globe, and promote American values and interests. Last year, the NDC released national security policy principles that promotes the security and prosperity of Americans and reaffirms America’s commitment to a safer, more just and more peaceful world. The NDAA advances the NDC’s 20 for 2020 Policy Agenda priorities to Restore American Global Leadership, Lead on Technology and Innovation, and Reinvigorate Government.