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November 18, 2020

SASC Chairman Inhofe Delivers Opening Remarks at Bicameral 'Pass the Gavel' Meeting on Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today delivered opening remarks at the annual "pass the gavel" meeting, which is an opportunity for members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees to meet and work together to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the defense authorization bill. 

Each year, the chairmanship of the NDAA conference committee alternates between the two chambers. This year, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) passed the gavel to Inhofe, who is chairing the conference negotiations.

As Prepared for Delivery:
Thank you, Chairman Smith, and thank you all for being here today. I am looking forward to beginning the conference process with the traditional “Pass the Gavel” meeting.

This process looks a little different from normal, but we still share the same goal: Finishing the Conference Report for the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

If everything goes smoothly, this will be the 60th year Congress has passed an NDAA. It’s pretty much the only thing around here with that kind of track record.

That’s because we all know how important this bill is. It’s the most important bill we’ll consider all year, and we all take this responsibility, given to us by this little old document no one reads anymore, the Constitution, very seriously.

Caring for our troops and providing for the common defense – these are bipartisan priorities.

On the Senate side, Senator Reed and I shared a commitment to upholding this bipartisan spirit and making this a member-led bill.

In our committee markup, we considered nearly 400 amendments, and adopted over 229 of those. They were evenly split, Democrat and Republican, and the committee advanced the bill by a vote of 25-2.

On the floor, we had a great process as well. We received another 800-plus amendments, with 145 amendments adopted, again on a bipartisan basis. The final vote reflected this bipartisanship – 86 to 14.

To get here, we have worked in a transparent, bipartisan process, and I expect that to continue with our conference proceedings.

I look forward to hearing from you all today as we work to this goal. This is an important milestone in the annual conference process.

So far, we’ve been making great progress. We do have some outstanding issues to resolve still and some choices to make, but I’m optimistic we’ll be able to get something on the floor in short order.

With hard work and compromise, we will send the president an NDAA to sign — for the 60th year in a row.

That’s not the only reason this is a milestone bill. This NDAA also marks the HASC Ranking Member’s final NDAA before he retires.

Congressman Thornberry, we thank you for your service and for your unwavering dedication to our troops, and I’m proud to honor you by naming this bill the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.


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