U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) spoke on the Senate floor today about the NDAA ahead of the final vote.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, the Senate will soon vote on final passage of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.
Throughout the last two weeks, we have debated this legislation here on the Senate floor in an open process. I want to thank each of my colleagues who have come down and spoken about how this bill will positively impact the military communities from each of their states.
I am proud of the work the Senate Armed Services Committee has put into this bill – months of bipartisan work holding countless hearings, considering hundreds of amendments during the committee markup and 47 bipartisan amendments on the floor.
In January, President Trump and Secretary Mattis announced the new National Defense Strategy that rightfully identified that we are returning to a world of great power competition, one dominated by our capabilities relative to China and Russia.
While we still need to be prepared to respond to threats from terrorism and rouge states like Iran and North Korea, the National Defense Strategy was clear – we need to make strategic investments now in the areas where we are falling behind.
And we are behind. Since the release of the National Defense Strategy, I have traveled to visit our allies in both Eastern Europe and Asia. They all understand the threat of growing aggression from China and Russia.
I have spoken to our commanders in the field, military leadership, and – perhaps most importantly – I have talked to the enlisted men and women who are currently deployed overseas.
The Senate Armed Services Committee was tasked with taking the National Defense Strategy and turning it into a policy: the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act.
We made tough choices about where and how to invest our resources, but I am pleased with the work we have done.
We’re making needed investments in training, maintenance and modernization – restoring our qualitative and quantitative advantage around the world. We know that right now, America doesn’t have the best of everything.
We’re addressing that by catching up where we are falling behind – artillery, hypersonics, nuclear triad – and maintaining our superiority in areas where China and Russia are trying to gain on us.
We’re standing up to China by strengthening our position across the Pacific region. This bill provides support to our allies who stand up against China’s military and economic coercion and procures deployable airbase systems to enhance credible combat power.
The NDAA also calls out China for illegally creating and fortifying islands in the South China Sea for military purposes and modernizes the Committee on Foreign Investment to address national security concerns and stop China from trying to steal sensitive technology from U.S. companies.
The NDAA counters Russia’s growing aggression and influence across Eastern Europe by directing a study on permanently stationing U.S. forces in Poland and conducting a study on Russia’s malign influence around the world.
It continues limitations on U.S.-Russia military cooperation, provides defensive lethal aid to Ukraine and allows U.S. Cyber Command to respond to Russia’s continued cyber attacks.
It keeps faith with our troops by providing a 2.6 percent military pay raise, the highest in nearly 10 years, modernizing the officer personnel system and supporting our troops and military families.
There is no doubt in my mind that this bill will make American families safer and will stand up for our democratic values around the world.
I must thank the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee for their continued leadership.
First, I want to thank my friend from Rhode Island, Senator Reed for his leadership and commitment to bipartisan collaboration throughout the process. We shared a commitment to open debate and amendments.
Second, and most significantly, I need to recognize the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. McCain for his leadership in this legislation that rightfully bears his name.
You can clearly see that this bill reflects his priorities and policy initiatives he’s fought for as our Chairman. His commitment to government oversight, accountability and American leadership around the world is evident on every page.
We miss his voice in this chamber today, but today’s vote is a true tribute to his lasting legacy on our nation, and I urge my colleagues to join me in voting in support.