July 20, 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 National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2021.
As Prepared for Delivery:
This week, the Senate is resuming consideration – and hopefully completing – the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.
We’ve just spent two weeks back home, where I hope all of my colleagues reflected on the true meaning of Independence Day.
No bill is more important to protecting our freedoms than the National Defense Authorization Act.
How do I know that? There’s a document not too many people read anymore, called the Constitution – it tells us what we’re supposed to be doing here: defending America.
This is a responsibility all of us here share. So I know we all care deeply about the outcome of this bill.
I want to highlight the work and the bipartisan, comprehensive nature of the legislation. We’ve already adopted over 140 bipartisan amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act.
Those numbers don’t even include the hundreds of amendments considered in markup or Member-interest provisions we worked that were included in the base text.
It is my hope, and Senator Reed’s hope, that we clear another Manager’s Package if possible.
This week, we’re also going to vote on a few more amendments – some I support and others I don’t.
Regardless of my feelings on specific amendments, I thank my colleagues for coming together so we are able to have these amendment votes. It’s been at least a few years since we’ve been able to vote on this many amendments on the floor.
The important thing is that we’re doing this. We’re coming together to get this must-pass bill done.
Things can get pretty divisive around here sometimes, but the National Defense Authorization Act is something we always come together to do.
For 59 years in a row, it’s almost always passed with wide bipartisan support.
Senator Reed, the Armed Services Committee, and I – we worked hard to make this a bipartisan bill: in the base text, in the committee mark, with amendments and with votes.
We listened to what our colleagues asked for in their Member Interest letters. We had a bipartisan markup where we adopted over 200 amendments from both Republicans and Democrats.
On its own, this is a good, bipartisan bill, and we’re trying to make it better on the floor, as we adopt or reject additional amendments.
We’re about to make it 60 straight years of passing an NDAA – we don’t want to jeopardize that.
We saw what happened in the House last year, when they tried to write a partisan bill. It went nowhere.
I commend Chairman Smith for returning to the bipartisanship that has long been the tradition of the Armed Services Committees, on both sides of the Capitol.
The House is taking up their bill on the floor this week, and I wish them well.
I hope they, too, block some of the worst amendments – the ones that would cut funding for our troops and hamstring our ability to defend the nation.
I’m glad they are prioritizing getting this done. I’m also glad they returned to regular order – that is, considering the authorization bill before the appropriations bill.
That’s the way things should work around here. We authorize first, then we appropriate.
So what we’ll do is what we’ve done every year for the last 59 years – we will come together, Senate and House, Republicans and Democrats, and conference our bills.
Our votes this week are the next step to this goal.
There’s really nothing else around here that has a 60-year success streak. The NDAA is it.
This is our sacred and profound responsibility: to the 2.1 million men and women who have volunteered to serve, and their families; to the more than 700,000 civilian employees at the Department of Defense, and thousands more who support our nuclear enterprise; and to all Americans – that we protect them, their families, and their livelihoods.
I thank my colleagues for their contributions, I look forward to our continued debate on this important bill – the most important bill we’ll do all year.