Skip to content

Blunt: Passing 60th Annual NDAA “Is A National Responsibility”

July 02, 2020

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 responsibility.
“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 floor.
“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 that.
“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.
“There 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.”

Next Article » « Previous Article