President Trump Signs 2018 NDAA Into Law
Legislation includes 13 Cruz amendments critical to Texas and U.S. national security
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today President Trump signed into law the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which provides numerous military necessities, including over $479 million in military construction funds to the state of Texas for 2018. The law includes 13 amendments sponsored by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and eight amendments cosponsored by Sen. Cruz, which benefit Texas and our military interests both abroad and in space.
“I am pleased to see President Trump sign the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act into law,” Sen. Cruz said. “This legislation is a vital first step toward rebuilding our military, giving our service members a well-deserved raise, and ensuring our military has the resources to be successful in their mission. By providing for the defense of this nation, Congress has fulfilled its most important responsibility. Over the past eight years from the Middle East to the Pacific, our world has become an increasingly unstable and dangerous place. Thankfully, this reauthorization includes other critically important provisions for Texas, including an expanded number of F-35s to continue our air superiority and vital construction funding for our state’s defense installations.”
Sen. Cruz sponsored and cosponsored several amendments to the NDAA specifically benefiting Texas military installations and the servicemen and women based in the Lone Star State. He also sponsored and cosponsored numerous amendments benefitting our military interests across the world and in space, specifically those that will strengthen our relations with Taiwan and India, hold accountable the hostile regimes in Iran and Venezuela, explore ways to secure vital domestic infrastructure from electromagnetic attack, and secure American leadership in space.
The amendments he sponsored or supported directly benefitting the State of Texas include:
- Reform of DOD Site Clearinghouse to Address Windfarm Interference: Texas wind energy is an important economic contributor to our state, however communities across Texas have expressed concerns regarding the potential encroachment of windfarms upon their highly vital military installations. This NDAA recognizes the concerns of both parties and has reformed the DOD Site Clearinghouse process by removing a preference for alternative energy that was initiated by the previous administration. Sen. Cruz led a bipartisan effort to develop an equitable process for energy projects by improving the notification process, establishing the means for governors to express concerns, and ensuring that the cumulative impacts of potential energy projects are considered in a fair and non-partisan manner. This amendment is critical for Texas installations located in close proximity to wind turbine farms.
- National Guard Counterdrug Program: The National Guard plays a vital role in assuring our security and part of their mission – particularly that of the Texas National Guard – focuses on prohibiting the flow of drugs into the United States. The Threat Based Resource Model that delineates where those federal funds are sent has been significantly altered over the years, with larger portions of those funds being directed to states that are not dealing with the border challenges created by the transport of illicit narcotics. Sen. Cruz developed an NDAA initiative that will direct an evaluation of this program to determine whether those federal funds are being efficiently and effectively utilized in accordance with the counterdrug charter of this program, which is of particular interest to the Texas National Guard’s operations along the Texas-Mexico border.
- Improving Enlisted Personnel Housing: The men and women who volunteer to serve in our defense should not be forced to live in substandard barracks or military housing. The cuts to our military that occurred under the previous administration created a situation where commanders had to make incredibly tough choices, in some cases whether to fund quality of life issues such as housing, or fund the training of men and women headed into harm’s way. They appropriately chose the latter. A service member’s quality of life has a direct impact on his or her effectiveness and therefore our nation’s readiness. Sen. Cruz addressed this concern in the NDAA and has requested the Services to increase prioritization of military housing when considering military construction submissions.
- Amarillo’s Material Staging Facility Modernization: Our nation’s nuclear stockpile is a vital part of our strategic deterrent and the work being performed in Amarillo’s Material Staging Facility is crucial to that enterprise. However, much of it was built decades ago, and we should not risk extended delays to development of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s plans for its modernization. Sen. Cruz introduced an amendment that directs the NNSA to provide a plan for the future Material Staging Facility by February 2018.
- DoD Water Resource Management: Texas is particularly prone to times of drought, as recently experienced in many parts of the state 2006-2011. To ensure readiness for future times of drought, Sen. Cruz joined Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) to direct the Department of Defense (DOD) to develop a roadmap that addresses capability gaps for water production, treatment and purification, and a strategy to ensure our military installations’ water needs are adequately met.
- Texas Education Partnerships with USAF: The USAF currently faces a shortfall of aircraft maintainers, however, Texas is blessed with outstanding educational institutions and supportive communities that can help solve this challenge. Sen. Cruz introduced language that directs the Air Force to pursue partnerships with local and regional educational institutions to help develop and strengthen these important training needs.
- Religious Liberty Training for Senior Leaders: The hostility of the previous administration toward service members who choose to display and act upon their sincerely held religious beliefs created a need for previous NDAAs to specifically recognize the importance of protecting the religious liberties of our servicemen and women. To ensure that the Services are appropriately developing a strategy for military leadership to address and adhere to current laws, Sen. Cruz cosponsored Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-Iowa) amendment that directs DOD to ensure appropriate religious liberty training is provided to senior military leaders, chaplains, and judge advocates.
- National Guard Headquarters Manpower: Recent NDAAs have addressed the concern that the upper ranks in the military had increased in number compared to the men and women serving on the front lines of our nations’ military campaigns. Sen. Cruz sponsored an amendment extends this consideration to the dedicated members of our National Guard by creating a cap on the number of personnel that are pulled from the states to work in the at the National Guard Bureau headquarters in D.C. This will keep more soldiers back into the respective units at the state level and help our local National Guard units perform their mission.
- Education Tuition Assistance: The Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) is a program that helps fund college credit by examination programs, college entrance exams, and federal financial aid to help offset out of pocket costs of further education. Sen. Cruz introduced an amendment that requires service members who apply for tuition assistance receive information about the DANTES program.
- Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland: Sen. Cruz cosponsored an amendment by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that encourages DOD to improve its Forward Operating Base efficiencies by utilizing capabilities such as the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training (BEAST) at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. BEAST training is provided to about 39,000 recruits per year to improve their combat capabilities.
- Corpus Christi Land Transfer: At the request of the City of Corpus Christi, Sen. Cruz presented an amendment to enable the city to conduct a land transfer with the U.S. Navy, should it choose to do so, out of concern for potential population growth that may impact the integrity of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.
- Report on Hurricane Damage to Defense Assets: Sen. Cruz cosponsored Sen. Rubio’s amendment to require a report on damage to Department of Defense assets from hurricanes in 2017.
The amendments he sponsored or supported directly benefitting the United States’ interests abroad and in space include:
- Iran Military-to-Military Cooperation: Sen. Cruz led an effort cosponsored by Sen. David Perdue (R-Georgia) to address Iran’s troubling relationship and military cooperation with other hostile nations. This amendment will expand DOD’s Annual Report on the Military Power of Iran to assess military-to-military cooperation between Iran and foreign countries including Cuba, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela. The report shall include any cooperation and collaboration on the development of nuclear, biological, chemical, and advanced conventional weapons, weapon systems, and delivery vehicles.
- Iran Military Report Additions: Sen. Cruz cosponsored Sen. Perdue’s amendment that expands the DOD’s Annual Report on the Military Power of Iran to 1) assess the use of civilian transportation infrastructure, such as commercial aircraft and vessels, used to transport illicit military cargo to or from Iran; and 2) report on Iran’s illicit transfers pertaining to nuclear, ballistic missile, chemical, biological, advanced conventional weapons, and other technology.
- Prohibit IRGC Use of Mahan Air: Sen. Cruz cosponsored Sen. Cornyn’s amendment to prevent the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp from using Mahan Air for material support for terrorist activities.
- Venezuelan Military Cooperation: Sen. Cruz led an effort that directs the Secretary of Defense to report on military cooperation between the Government of Venezuela with Cuba, Iran, Russia, foreign terrorist organizations, and regional militant groups. The report shall include 1) cooperation on military intelligence and counterintelligence operations; 2) cooperation in illicit drug trafficking operations; 3) cooperation in cyber and information operations; 4) cooperation with transnational criminal organizations; 5) weapons and technology transfers; and 6) estimates of the types and amounts of support, including funding, lethal and non-lethal supplies, and training provided.
- Taiwan Defense Partnership: Taiwan is a lynchpin of American national security in the Asia-Pacific, yet China is seeking to isolate Taiwan from its allies and partners across the globe. Cosponsored by Sens. Inhofe, Perdue, Strange, Wicker, and Cotton, Sen. Cruz secured an amendment that strengthens America’s strategic relationship with Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act and Ronald Reagan’s “Six Assurances” by calling for a return to regular arms sales based solely on Taiwan’s needs, encouraging DOD to assist Taipei in fielding a strong air defense capability, and requiring DOD to review its policy against allowing Taiwanese ships to dock in U.S. Ports.
- Taiwan Joint Exercise Invitation: Sen. Cruz supported Sen. Cotton’s requirement that DOD invite Taiwan to the Air Force’s Red Flag exercise, a continuation of an effort Sen. Cruz sponsored as an amendment in the 2015 NDAA. The exercises will provide the opportunity to elevate our relationship with Taiwan, while conducting the joint training necessary to preparing Taipei for crucial air defense contingencies.
- Space Policy: The uncontested superiority the United States previously enjoyed in space is eroding, as key competitors like Russia and China field capabilities that threaten our space presence. Sen. Cruz supported reinforcing the DOD’s conception of space as an operating domain and supports the renewed emphasis on space in the Conference Report by providing the head of Air Force Space Command with a six year term and sole authority over the service's space acquisition, personnel and operations.
- India Major Defense Partner: Few partnerships in the 21st century carry more strategic significance than United States partnership with India, the world’s largest democracy. Even so, Sen. Cruz believes that current bilateral cooperation and joint development need to be more closely aligned with the shared interests of maritime domain awareness and anti-submarine warfare. Sen. Cruz secured an amendment that calls on DOD to reassess its approach to partnering with India and to appoint an individual to oversee this process. Additionally, Sen. Cruz cosponsored Sen. Warner’s amendment, which was adopted, to develop a strategy of defense cooperation between the United States and India.
- Report on Electromagnetic (EMP) Attack Commission Findings: Sen. Cruz cosponsored Sen. Inhofe’s amendment which directs the Secretary of Defense to report on actions taken with regard to the EMP Commission’s military findings and recommendations, and provide a recommended path forward for the protection of military systems against an EMP attack.