Sen. Cruz Receives Bipartisan Support for NDAA Amendments
Congress must support troops in their mission to defend freedom
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) applauds the passage of the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) on Thursday after a week of debate and consideration by both parties. Sen. Cruz introduced or cosponsored more than a dozen amendments that were successfully adopted by the committee.
"Congress' first priority is to provide for the national defense and ensure our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have everything they need to defend our freedom," said Sen. Cruz. "I am grateful for the committee's support for my amendments, including measures that will ensure the readiness of our troops, support for our allies, and continued vigilance against our adversaries. This bipartisan legislation reflects the dedication this committee has to our men and women in uniform. I am honored to have worked with my colleagues to achieve the important reforms in this legislation and look forward to its consideration on the Senate floor. There are certainly provisions that I believe can be improved further to guarantee we have the best trained and equipped military in the world."
Sen. Cruz sponsored the following amendments that were adopted by the committee:
● Renewable Energy Obstructions near Military Installations helps each branch of the military obtain more direct input into the decisions of the Department of Defense (DoD) Siting Clearinghouse during its assessment of renewable energy projects near military facilities. SASC agreed with Sen. Cruz that the national security and operational concerns of each Service should receive the direct consideration of the clearinghouse with respect to the compatibility of the desired renewable energy construction project and any potential impacts on the safety or readiness of military service members that might result.
● National Guard Full Time Operational Status modifications will improve the efficiency of the National Guard by requiring the National Guard Bureau to account for states that over-recruit to meet the National Guard's overall end strength. The National Guard routinely asks Texas to recruit beyond designated levels; and Texans unequivocally answer that call. This amendment directs the National Guard to consider the actual manning level of each state when it allocates Full Time Operational Status funding and positions.
● Iranian Cyber Capabilities Reporting expands the existing Annual Report on the Military Power of Iran to include an assessment on Iran's rapidly developing offensive and defensive cyber warfare capabilities. Iran has conducted cyber-attacks against several U.S. businesses, including Wells Fargo, Capital One, Bank of America, and BB&T. To fully understand the threat of the Iranian regime and how to effectively counter it, we must have a comprehensive understanding of Iran's emerging cyber capabilities and how these operations fit into their regional and global military strategy.
● People's Republic of China Cyber Reporting obtains a holistic overview of rapidly increasing Chinese cyber capabilities in the next Annual Report on China's Military and Security Developments. China has invested enormous resources into cyber operations and has conducted several cyber-attacks against U.S. corporations, including an attack on Westinghouse they used to gain intelligence about ongoing business negotiations. It is critical that the United States have a full understanding of not just Chinese cyber capabilities, but also their strategic and operational cyber objectives.
● Taiwan Military Capabilities and Training, cosponsored by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), reaffirms the United States' commitment to arming Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act and expresses the Senate's position that the United States should invite Taiwan to train with the U.S. Air Force at Red Flag exercises. Red Flag provides a realistic air combat, space, and electronic threat environment that offers invaluable training opportunities for our international partners. Extending this invitation shows the United States' commitment to Taiwan and will help improve Taiwan's operational capabilities.
● Space-Based Missile Defense requests an assessment from the Missile Defense Agency on the research and development of a space-based missile defense capability and its potential role in the layered ballistic missile defense system the U.S. currently possesses. A space-based component is critical to pursue given the increasing global threat environment. This capability would provide additional engagement time and intercept opportunities for the U.S. and better protect the American people, our allies, and our forward-deployed forces.
Sen. Cruz also cosponsored the following amendments that were adopted by the committee:
● Report on Potential Support for Vetted Syrian Opposition, cosponsored with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), directs the DoD to provide a detailed report on the assistance and support that would be required to ensure the vetted and trained Syrian opposition elements are able to continue operations after returning to their country. Of particular interest is an understanding of the level of support for logistics, intelligence, medical and especially defensive fire support. Sen. Cruz believes it is crucial to understand the boundaries of the support the Obama Administration is willing to provide before further expansions of this project are warranted.
● Streamline Commercial Space Launch, cosponsored with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), streamlines the process of commercial space launch and reentry operations by eliminating duplicative requirements among the Department of Transportation, DoD, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and other executive agencies.
● U.S. / Israel Anti-Tunnel Cooperation, cosponsored with Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), requires the Secretary of Defense, along with the Secretary of State, to conduct a study on the potential for a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Israel to establish a cooperative research and development program for an anti-tunnel defense system. Israel suffers a persistent threat from terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah who have created a vast network of underground tunnels allowing undetected access into Israel, particularly for smuggling weapons, drugs, and humans. Hamas has used these tunnels to place explosive materials underground, the use of which led to civilian casualties. Additionally, Hezbollah has utilized tunnels in southern Lebanon to move their fighters and stage attacks. It is in the national security interest of the United States to assist Israel in developing an anti-tunnel defense system in order to combat terrorist activity.
● Apache Transfers from the National Guard to Active Army, cosponsored with Sens. Graham, Lee and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), directs the U.S. Army to count current AH-64's that are receiving upgrades toward the authorized transfer of 48 Apache helicopters to the U.S. Army. This will ensure that the National Guard is not forced to transfer more than the originally agreed amount.
● Religious Freedom, cosponsored with Sens. Lee and Inhofe, affirms the right of service members to voice their sincerely held religious beliefs and the role of military chaplains to represent and express their religion to members of the armed services. The amendment encourages the DoD to recognize the role of the military chaplain to care for the spiritual well-being of service members and their families, as well as supporting needed training for chaplains on suicide prevention.
● Guantanamo Bay Detainee Transfer Prohibition, cosponsored with Sens. Ayotte, Inhofe, Tillis, Wicker, and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), prevents terrorists in Guantanamo Bay from being transferred to Yemen, one of the most unstable and terrorist-infested countries in the world.
● Special Victims Counsel Program Reforms, cosponsored with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), makes four improvements to the Special Victims' Counsel (SVC) program in the DoD: mandating interlocutory review of violations of victims' rights in the Service Courts of Criminal Appeals; establishing victims' right to counsel during questioning; ensuring discovery rights for SVCs, including charge sheets, pleadings, motions, responses, and rulings; and securing survivors' right to a court transcript. These reforms will ensure that the interests of sexual assault victims in the military are effectively and adequately represented.