Sen. Cruz: Final 2020 National Defense Authorization Act Reinforces Americas Defense & National Security Interests
Defense bill halts construction of Russias Nord Stream 2, expands Texas-based F-35 fleet, and provides $343M for military construction in Texas
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this week voted in favor of final passage of the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which enhances America's national security and ensures that the men and women of our Armed Forces have the resources they need to defend our interests globally. President Trump is expected to sign the package into law later this week.
Sen. Cruz fought for dozens of measures, including his bipartisan bill halting the construction of Nord Stream 2, Russia's natural gas pipeline that, if completed, would vastly strengthen President Vladimir Putin's hand at the expense of the rest of the free world. Thirteen of his measures were successfully incorporated into the final FY20 NDAA, including a range of amendments directly relevant to Texas military communities and our military families.
Upon passage in the Senate, Sen. Cruz said:
"Despite the divisiveness pervading Washington, I am pleased both the House and Senate came together today to ensure our military is funded and equipped with the resources it needs to protect and defend our nation's security. At a time when our nation faces growing threats from countries like Iran, China, and Russia, this bill reinforces America's defense and national security interests by protecting the long-term readiness of the B-1B aircraft - one of our best assets for deterring aggression from our adversaries. And it fully funds the Texas-based F-35 program, which is necessary to ensure that our Air Force can field fifth generation jets able to dominate the battlefields and airspace of the future.
Sen Cruz added:
"The legislation moves forward with a United States Space Force, which I was proud to see included my proposal to establish an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy and a Chief of Space Operations on the Joint Staff.
"The NDAA also includes resources for contesting and countering aggression in cyberspace, the Arctic, and against our electricity grid. Most importantly, it makes significant investment in America's soldiers and veterans, including a well-deserved 3.1 percent pay increase, reforms in military housing, as well as support for mental health and wellness."
Below are some of the overarching priorities and amendments Sen. Cruz fought for, and were successfully included in the final NDAA:
• Nord Stream 2 Sanctions: Protects European energy independence by imposing sanctions related to Russian energy pipeline Nord Stream 2.
• Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy: The NDAA creates the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, in line with legislation that Sen. Cruz introduced this Congress. This measure is necessary to ensure that the Space Force has sufficient influence and resources to address the challenges our nation will face as space increasingly becomes a domain of military competition.
• B-1B Bomber Recovery Plan: Sen. Cruz's provision enhances Congressional oversight of the B-1B fleet and requires the United States Air Force to brief Congress on a plan to increase readiness on the aircraft. The long-term health of the B-1B will help maintain Dyess Air Force Base as a premier installation in our nation's defense, and is a recognition of the important role that the Abilene military community plays and will continue to play. This amendment was cosponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).
• "Widow's Tax" Removal: Sen. Cruz joined a letter with Sen. Jones (D-Alabama) to conferees calling for the removal of the so-called "Widow's Tax" after the Senate did not include this in its version of the NDAA. The final version reinstitutes the Survivor Benefits Plan over the next three years removing the burden placed on families of fallen service members.
• Rough Terrain Container Handler (RTCH): Sen. Cruz's provision directs the Department of the Army and the Marine Corps to jointly develop a plan to sustain the Rough Terrain Container Handler fleets. This provision will support both the work occurring at Red River and Texas companies.
• Army Depot Maintenance: Requires a comprehensive strategy to improve the infrastructure of military depots with the goal of ensuring proper capacity and capability to support readiness. This provision requires an assessment of the conditions and performance, and the resources and investments necessary to successfully manage military depots, which would include sites such as Red River and Corpus Christi.
• License Portability for Military Spouses: Requires collaboration between the Pentagon and state governments to reduce professional relicensing burdens on military spouses changing duty stations.
• Increased Funding for Texas A&M National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV): Sen. Cruz's provision doubles the authorization for the NSMV in the Maritime Administration (MARAD), which will enable and empower the Texas A&M Maritime Academy to train more mariners, which in turn will increase our nation's response readiness for natural disasters in the Gulf region while reducing overall NSMV procurement costs by $40 million.
• Expedited Processing for Port Improvement Grants: Sen. Cruz's provision reduces the amount of paperwork and time required for Texas ports to apply for certain grants by allowing packages of projects to qualify as single grant applications, streamlining and enhancing the process.
Sen. Cruz supported the following amendments, which were adopted into the final NDAA:
• Burn Pits Accountability: Sen. Cruz joined with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to require the Department of Defense evaluate whether U.S. service members have been exposed to airborne toxins or burn pits. This measure provides service members the option to be enrolled in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
• Accountability for Iranian Terrorism: Sen. Cruz joined with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to ensure that victims of Iran's violence and terrorism have the tools they need to recover damages from the Ayatollahs.
• Cybersecurity and Manufacturing Protections from Non-Free Market Governments: Sen. Cruz joined with Sen. Cornyn to keep U.S. tax dollars from going to transit vehicle supplier companies owned and subsidized by non-free market governments.
• Electromagnetic Pulse: Sen. Cruz joined with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) to strengthen our nation's resiliency against an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.
• Strengthen Commitment to Taiwan: Sen. Cruz joined with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to reaffirm the United States' support for Taiwan and direct the DOD to assess possible updates to the Taiwan Relations Act.
• Increase Pressure on North Korean Enablers: Sen. Cruz joined with Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) to introduce sanctions on foreign banks and companies that do business with North Korea.
Sen. Cruz led the fight to remove this provision from the final NDAA:
• Strike Spectrum Sharing: The final NDAA does not include the deeply problematic language on spectrum sharing that was in the Senate-passed version of the NDAA. This provision would have effectively allowed the Department of Defense to withhold spectrum from commercial use and threatened to upend established spectrum-management policy at a time when the United States is competing with China to win the race to 5G. Sen. Cruz led the fight to remove this language from the NDAA with his amendment to strike Section 214 when the NDAA was being considered by the Senate as well the letter he led with other senators to the Commerce and Armed Services Committee leaders when the NDAA was in conference.
The final NDAA included the following measures, which directly benefit Texas:
• Military Construction Projects: The FY20 NDAA provides $207 million for projects at Joint Base San Antonio, $50 million for projects at Fort Hood, and $86 million for projects at Corpus Christi Army Depot. Additionally, the NDAA provides authority to carry out FY18 construction projects for Joint Base San Antonio.
• B-21 Program: Fully funds the B-21 program, ensuring that Dyes Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas remains a pillar of our nation's strategic capabilities and deterrence.
• F-35 Program: Authorizes the procurement of 94 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, which are built in Fort Worth, Texas. This will continue our air superiority with the world's most lethal fighter.
• Future Vertical Lift Program: Increases funding for advanced development of FVL Capability Set 3, which will enhance modernization. This program is essential to the future of Army Aviation and is supported by many Texans who support the development of this next generation of aviation technology.
• Privatized Military Housing: Provides reforms to address the challenges faced by military families, including steps to ensure accountability.
• Energy Projects: Provides $16.5M for energy resilience and conservation projects at Fort Hood, and $4.5 million to enhance the microgrid at Camp Swift.
• Military Working Dogs: Supports the transfer of retired military working dogs to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, where veterinary screening and care are provided, and adoptions are carried out by the 341st Training Squadron.
• Spaceports: Expands infrastructure investment program to include FAA-licensed spaceports, including Houston Spaceport.