December 11, 2020
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to vote for the Conference Agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. The legislation will receive a final vote at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.
It is my honor to present the 60th annual National Defense Authorization Act.
For 59 straight years, you can’t say this about any other piece of legislation, all year or any time, except the defense authorization bill. We’ve passed this bill — we pass it every year for 59 years. This will be 60 years, and I anticipate that we’ll pass it now.
There isn’t much that happens around the Capitol that has a track record like that, but this is the bill. Maybe I’m biased. Maybe in some people’s minds I’m wrong, but I think this is the most important bill of the year. I really believe that. I’ve believed that since 1987. This is something that we have to do.
There’s an old document nobody reads anymore called the Constitution. In there, it tells us what we need to be doing. That’s exactly what we’re going to be doing today — provide for our defense.
So it’s simple, what this bill does. It makes our country more secure, and it supports our troops who defend it.
Right now, this couldn’t be more important. As President Trump’s National Defense Strategy tells us, we’re up against the most serious threats we’ve seen maybe forever, and it’s coming from China and Russia.
These countries who stand against everything America stands for, are building. You know, it bothers me that we went through the last five years of the Obama Administration — that would have been from 2010 through 2015 — where he criticized the military. We didn’t have to have the military, he felt…During that time, during the Obama Administration, during those five years, he reduced the funding for the military by 25 percent. This has not happened in my memory, and it hasn’t happened since World War II that we’ve gone through a five-year period of doing that.
The tragedy is during that same time, China was increasing theirs by 83 percent. Stop and think about that, Mr. President. 83 percent. When you realize that we were reducing our expenditures by 25 percent while they’re increasing theirs by 83 percent. Now, that’s serious enough, and that’s something that is very much a concern to many of us.
So we know that they were increasing, we were decreasing, and as a result, things happen. There are some things that they did: hypersonics, for example. That’s one of the most recent exercises that’s out there. They’re actually today, as we speak, they’re ahead of us — both China and Russia are ahead of the United States of America in hypersonics and that type of technology that’s out there.
This president came along, and, you know, I know there’s a lot of controversy about this bill. I know that the President wanted to have something in there that was having to do with language that had nothing to do with the military, and I agree wholeheartedly with him, but you can’t — you’ve got to have a defense authorization bill. Our kids in the field demand it.
With the NDAA, we’re implementing the policies and programs to make sure that doesn’t happen. We ensure that America is able to prevent and, if necessary, win wars of today and tomorrow…
I see that Senator Reed has come in. Senator Jack Reed is the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Let me just tell you that I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have as a partner in putting together the defense authorization bill, the most important bill of all year, than Senator Jack Reed. He has been there by my side with me working together. We had a Big Four meeting. We always end up with a Big Four meeting, and to tell you what that is — that’s the ranking Democrat and Republican in the House, the Democrat and Republican in the Senate, and the four of us get together and decide, what are we going to do? What is this thing going to look like? Then we pass it. We pass this bill.
It’s a good bill. It’s one that we have an opportunity to vote on today, the most important bill of the year. In voting against it, you have to stop and think about those kids that are out there in harm’s way and the threats that they are facing on a regular basis. This is the problem. This is a serious thing that’s out there, and I can’t imagine wanting to have to face these people in the field, in harm’s way and say, well, we didn’t pass a defense authorization bill.
We’re going to pass it. These kids are going to get the right treatment they need. They are going to get the resources they need.
I did mention just a few minutes ago about the previous administration. I don’t want people to misunderstand what I am saying. I’m not saying this critically of the Obama administration. I’m saying he didn’t have the same priorities that many of us have. His top priority was not defending America, in spite of what the Constitution tells us should be the top priority. So we went through that time, as I mentioned, between the five years of 2010 and 2015, reduced the funding for the military by 25 percent. At the same time, China was increasing their funding for their military by 83 percent.
This is what we looked at, and that’s what our president was faced with, and that’s why — I don’t know who is ill advising the president to be concerned about an issue that has nothing to do with the military. I know the President has been the strongest — I don’t know if there has ever been a President that has been a stronger supporter of our military and our kids in harm’s way than President Trump.
I’m just looking at this now, and I’m thinking we’re now one minute away from passing a bill that’s going to be the most significant bill. At this time I’d ask if the minority would like to make any comments at all, because I can tell you right now, I mentioned the names of all the people that had worked on this bill for the last year, and right side by side, it’s been Senator Jack Reed and me in the leadership of this bill, and it’s going to be a reality. I just want to thank you and give you an opportunity to get a last word in here, because we’re going to vote on this thing in less than a minute.