Friday, the Senate passed the Conference Report for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes provisions U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) worked to incorporate. The NDAA Conference Report provides our men and women in uniform with a three percent pay raise and secures key Indiana priorities. Senator Young, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and Marine who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, worked to ensure the bill would strengthen our military, while keeping Americans safe amidst threats from coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party, and the Taliban.
Senator Young issued the following statement:
“Today, the Senate continued its 60-year-steak of passing a strong and bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will keep America secure and cares for our men and women in uniform.
“This year’s bill ensures a well-deserved three percent pay increase to those in uniform who make significant sacrifices to safeguard our nation. This legislation also includes a new initiative to deter the Chinese Communist Party’s aggression known as the Pacific Deterrence Initiative. This transformative new program will enhance budgetary transparency and oversight, while reassuring our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
“I’ve also worked hard to secure priorities with a direct impact on Indiana, including provisions that bolster innovation and put Indiana companies in a strong position to succeed.
“During this time of uncertainty, it’s our job to fully fund our nation’s defense to fight the global threats of coronavirus, deter China, and keep Americans safe. This is a bill that I am proud to support.”
Senator Young also voiced concern that his amendment to preserve the Pentagon’s Chief Management Officer (CMO) position was not included in the final version of the Senate-passed bill. In the past year alone, the CMO has saved the Department of Defense $21 billion.
Senator Young worked to secure provisions in the NDAA that support the following Indiana projects:
One-year Extension for AM General in Mishawaka:
The NDAA secured a one-year extension requiring any HMMWVs (Humvees) that are transferred to foreign militaries from the United States Department of Defense must be “new or like-new”, ensuring that AM General in Mishawaka would be positioned to contribute to any future HMMWV transfers. This provision ensures that any transfer of HMMWVs to foreign allies and partners would, in the future, involve U.S. industry, and that the vehicles shipped to foreign allies and partners would be fully capable and operational.
Naval equipment manufactured in Indiana:
Anti-Submarine Warfare remains a core mission area of the U.S. Navy and our Allies around the world. Senator Young secured a commitment to increase the U.S. Navy’s inventory of sonobuoys, which are a critical component of the Navy’s ability to detect, localize, classify, and track non-allied submarines from airborne platforms. Sonobuoys are manufactured by Ultra Electronics – Undersea Sensor Systems, Inc. (USSI) in Columbia City, Indiana. As tensions with China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, continue to rise, this equipment continues to become more important.
Steel technology innovations taking place in Indiana:
Senator Young also secured additional support for the Steel Performance Initiative (SPI), which supports the work being done by Harrison Steel Castings in Attica, Indiana. The purpose of the program is to create game-changing steel technology innovations that will enable higher performing defense systems and reduce acquisition costs. The most significant benefits of the program include increasing the availability of better material at lower costs for the Department of Defense and creating a more globally competitive domestic steel industry.
Other key components of the NDAA include:
Afghanistan Peace Process Oversight:
Senator Young secured the inclusion of his comprehensive legislation to provide for congressional oversight of the comprehensive Afghanistan peace process. The bipartisan bill mandates congressional oversight requirements for U.S. diplomatic efforts to achieve a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and any agreement that emerges from that process. As the U.S. pursues negotiations with the Taliban and work to end our involvement, Congress will be a part of the process to ensure that our mission is brought to a responsible end.
Creation of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI):
The National Defense Strategy details the enormous threats the United States faces in the Indo-Pacific region; therefore, the NDAA establishes a Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) to send a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is deeply committed to defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific. PDI will enhance budgetary transparency and oversight, focus resources on key military capability gaps, reassure U.S. allies and partners, and bolster the credibility of American deterrence in the Indo-Pacific. The bill authorizes funding for missile defense, enhancing forward posture, and improving interoperability with allies and partners.
Coronavirus response measures:
The NDAA supports the health and readiness of our men and women in uniform during the COVID-19 pandemic. It implements a pilot program on civilian and military partnerships to enhance interoperability and medical surge capability and capacity of the National Disaster Medical System, which will provide training, expand capacity, and establish a framework for well-coordinated federal response to pandemics and other threats. It also creates an expert panel to review the performance of military medical services providers during the pandemic. Additionally, the NDAA provides reserve retirement relief for service members affected by the COVID-19 stop movement order.
Senator Young helped secure provisions to prevent and address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. The provisions address the adverse health effects tied to PFAS chemicals that have emerged as widespread contaminants to the drinking water sources of military bases and firefighters. The provisions include a funding increase from $10 million to $15 million for an ongoing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study of the health consequences of PFAS and an evaluation of available firefighting technologies or substances to be adapted for use by DOD to facilitate the phase-out of firefighting foam that contains PFAS chemicals. Senator Young and Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan letter urging for these provisions in October.
Enable Development of Artificial Intelligence Technology:
Senator Young helped secure forward-looking legislation to promote an enabling environment for the continued development of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The legislation establishes a federal advisory committee to examine economic opportunities of emerging AI technologies, and brings the federal government to the table to advance this technology.