WASHINGTON – This week,
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) spoke on the Senate floor in support of the
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill, which is currently being
debated in the Senate, makes critical investments that will help ensure the
nation’s armed forces have the resources and authorities they need to carry out
their missions. In addition, the bill authorizes funding important to
Missouri’s military installations and defense industry.
The legislation also includes an amendment Blunt introduced with U.S.
Senator Josh Hawley (Mo.) to permanently designate May 1 as Silver Star Service
Banner Day, which honors our nation’s wounded and ill service members and
veterans, and their families.
Following are Blunt’s Remarks:
“Madam President, I am always pleased to be on the
floor with my good friend from Oklahoma, Mr. Lankford. But I was particularly
glad I was able to be here today, early in his remarks, talking about a family,
remembering that family in prayer, and then very thoughtfully going around the
world of where people are at this minute that defend us. It's a good thing for
us to think about. It's a good thing for us to keep in mind. And it's good that
when we say we [are] remembering people in our prayers, to be sure they really
understand that we are. But I’m glad to be with my neighbor here today and also
with Senator Hoeven on the floor.
“This will be the 60th time in a row, Madam
President, if we do our job, that we pass the National Defense Authorization
Act. I don't think there's any other bill, in fact I’m sure there's no other
bill we pass every year. And when we pass this bill every year, we reestablish
every year that defense is our number one priority. Defending the country is
the one thing that almost everybody admits they can't do for themselves. The
states don't think they could do this without us. This is a national
“And, you know, the threats we see today are
complex. They are more pronounced than any our nation has ever faced. Former
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dunford, recently said that our
military has to be ready to fight across regions, to fight across domains, and
across functions. This bill moves forward in all of those areas, being sure
that we're interoperable where need to be, that we're quickly mobile where we
need to be, that our armed services work as well together as we can possibly
hope they could work together.
“The president has launched policies and programs
to ensure the safety and well-being of Americans. Certainly the people who
defend us, who serve in the military, are doing their part to protect our
nation. Now it is time for the Congress to do its part, led by the Senate and
led by Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed, bringing this bill to the
“It's not a small bill and it is not a bill that
gets done just without a lot of work and a lot of compromise, and a lot of
determination as to what's really doable at this time. But this is the bill
we're voting on. Since we do it every year, a lot of it is not absolutely new,
but all of it is, in my view, as updated as the committee could bring it to the
floor and we're going to have a discussion of what needs to change even beyond
“This year, the Senate's version of the bill
provides $740 billion to support the Department of Defense. We see this at a
critical time when our adversaries, including China and Russia, seek to
undermine our influence around the world. Russia was just accused of putting a
bounty on the head of not only American service people, but our allies in some
parts of the world. If that's true, a price should be paid for that. And we're
going to be working hard in the next days to determine how deep that
intelligence goes and how true that allegation is. But whether it's true or
not, it should be no surprise that the Russians are constantly focused on
things that diminish the impact of the United States of America, and the
Chinese are more and more focused on that at the same time. This bill
authorizes $1.4 billion to establish a Pacific Deterrence Initiative that will
help secure our interest in the Pacific and our friends in the Pacific.
“The bill supports military readiness and
modernization priorities. It has more than $21 billion for shipbuilding,
investing in technology, hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, machine
learning, things we have to have to keep the current advantages we have.
“And it recognizes the family. There's $4 million
in this bill to help military spouses transfer their professional license
between assignments and between states when service members are reassigned. I’m
pleased to say that the Missouri General Assembly has been a leader in that
effort. When you move to our state as a spouse of someone in the military, your
credentials should be and, and I think now, are able to be moved with you.
“This bill increases funding for impact aid by $70
million, $20 million of that is for children with severe disabilities. But the
other $50 million is just trying to make up for what would have been a
taxpaying unit if that unit hadn’t been there. I think Impact Aid matters. This
bill once again says it matters, and we're increasing it. The programs are
critical. They're important. We need to ensure they're there.
“Military construction projects that will be
funded later by the appropriations process are authorized here. [There is] $40
million for the new hospital that ground was broken on at Fort Leonard Wood
just last week. $60 million for the new National Geospatial facility in St.
Louis, that’s a $1.3 or so billion dollar project that’s well on its way now.
This authorizes the next moving forward of that project.
“Investments in military weapons that are made in
Missouri and things that help our military that are made in Missouri, such as
the development of the B-21 Raider that will be based at Whiteman or the
modernization of the C-130H aircraft, where Rosecrans in St. Joseph is the
world training center for our NATO allies to come and understand lift and
moving things around and how those C-130 aircraft work.
“This bill authorizes $1.8 billion to buy 24 F-18
aircraft that are built in Missouri and $1.3 billion to buy F-15s that are
built in Missouri, made with a great Missouri-Illinois workforce. And I know
Senator Durbin and I will work together again on defense approps to be sure
that this authorization is fully filled. These aircraft are essential, and they
need to be part of our continuing defense base.
“Senator Hawley and I proposed an amendment in the
bill that would make Silver Star Service Banner Day an annual recognition on
May 1. This is to be sure we honor those who have made sacrifices, the wounded
and ill members of the [armed forces]. I urge my colleagues to recognize the
addition of Silver Star Service Banner Day in this bill.
are a lot of bipartisan priorities in this bill. This will have a bipartisan
vote when it leaves the Senate. It is a bill worthy of support, and, Madam
President, I look forward to our efforts to get this done for the 60th Senate
in a row.”