June 29, 2020
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today in support of the S. 4049, the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2021, ahead of the vote on the motion to proceed to consideration of the bill.
As Prepared for Delivery:
For 59 years in a row, Congress has passed an NDAA — almost always on a bipartisan basis. This year will be the 60th year.
I’m proud to say the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act continues in that long bipartisan tradition.
There’s not much around here anymore that passes every single year, let alone with support from both parties.
But we all know what this bill is about. It’s about support for our troops and national security.
I hope we’ll all keep that in mind as we discuss amendments to this bill – to keep them on topic.
Last week, I talked a little bit about how we’re falling behind China and Russia – how those two countries are now our biggest threats. They’re building up their military capabilities and positioning themselves strategically around the world.
Fortunately, we have a strategy to counter them – the National Defense Strategy. The National Defense Strategy came out in late 2018, and since then, the military services have been implementing this plan, with the support of Congress in previous NDAAs.
What we do this year is speed up that implementation. We set America on a course to make sure that we’re setting ourselves up for success – no matter what threat comes our way. We do that by using this document, the bipartisan NDS Commission Report as a roadmap.
What this says is that we need to create a credible military deterrent that tells China and Russia and anyone who would do us harm, “you just can’t win.” The NDAA does that.
It says we need to invest in the equipment, tools, weapons, resources, and training our troops need to succeed in their missions — we also make sure they are in the right places and at the right time. The NDAA does that. It says our biggest threats come from the Indo-Pacific region. The NDAA creates the Pacific Deterrence Initiative to enhance lethality, address key capability gaps, and support our allies and partners over there. It says technology is changing the nature of warfare rapidly – and that we’ve got to keep up with China and Russia, who are working hard to build weapons we’ve never even heard of.
So the NDAA pushes innovation and makes it easier for the Pentagon to harness that innovation throughout the Defense Industrial Base.
We harden our supply chain so that China and Russia can’t be a threat to us there. We’ve known we have issues there, but the pandemic really showed us where our weaknesses are.
This bill helps us reduce our reliance on foreign countries and protects our supply chain and key technologies from infiltration and other risks.
The NDS Commission Report also tells us how the Pentagon’s massive bureaucracy sometimes inhibits our ability to innovate and operate. So the NDAA helps the Pentagon fully implement the NDS — improving the way they budget, giving them flexibility hire and keep top talent, but always making sure they are accountable to the taxpayer.
No matter what threats we face – no matter who, what, where, when our how – the one constant is the men and women who make up our force.
These are the brave Americans who volunteer to wear the uniform and put themselves in harm’s way because they believe in this nation, and they are willing to give their lives to defend it.
At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing this bill does: it takes care of our troops and their families. They sacrifice so much — they risk so much — and we’ve got to make sure we take care of them right. We do that with this bill.
This is a very serious, sacred responsibility we have, and one I don’t take lightly. While I’m on the floor throughout the debate of this bill – I’m thinking about them.
When we’re talking about this bill, the numbers we’re talking about –the $740.5 billion, the 2.1 million service members – the sheer size can make you forget sometimes that there are real people who rely on us to do this, and do it right.
So here are a few of those people counting on us this week that I’m thinking of:
I’m thinking about one of my former interns, who started his journey at the Air Force Academy last week, as well as all the other new cadets and midshipmen at the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy and West Point.
I’m thinking about the 40 new Soldiers I talked with before they took their Oath of Enlistment on the Army Birthday. They are the future of our military.
I’m thinking about the Sailors and Marines serving overseas I had the honor of meeting earlier this year.
I’m thinking of Janna Driver, a tireless military spouse, who alerted us to the problems in privatized housing last year.
I’m also thinking of Kristie Roberts, a member of the 138th Fighter Wing of the Tulsa Air National Guard, who lost her husband, Staff Sgt. Marshal Roberts in March.
Each one of them represent hundreds of thousands of other men and women who are serving our nation – and we owe it to them to get this done together.
I’m glad to have by my side a Ranking Member who shares my dedication and gratitude to our troops – Senator Jack Reed. I’ve got to thank Senator Reed for being a great partner and friend and for his support of this bill.
Our whole committee, the Armed Services Committee, deserves thanks as well. They really worked so hard to make a great bill, and that’s what we’ve got.
Of course, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for our staff – led by John Bonsell for the majority and Liz King for the minority. I’ll talk more about them later, but they deserve a lot of praise.
They’ve done tremendous work, and the proof of that is the overwhelmingly bipartisan vote out of committee and the vote to move forward with the NDAA last Thursday.
Now, I’m looking forward to seeing the same, strong bipartisan support when we vote on this bill, hopefully at the end of this week.
We’re going to give it careful consideration, and I look forward to working with you all to make it better through the amendment process.