NDAA Compromised by Political Posturing

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN) released a statement following the House Committee on Armed Services’ passage of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The NDAA is the legislative vehicle that authorizes funding levels and priorities for our nation’s military. The NDAA passed through committee by a party-line vote of 33-24.

Said Rep. Banks, “While this year’s NDAA included a number of priorities that are important to Indiana, I am disappointed my Democrat colleagues chose to break with years of traditional, bipartisan collaboration to instead politicize this process in unprecedented fashion in an effort to score cheap political points. This process is far from over, and while I voted no on reporting the NDAA out of committee, I will continue to engage my colleagues in both chambers of Congress – and in both parties – to ensure our national security priorities are met despite the polarization of the process.”

The legislation includes many initiatives championed by Congressman Banks, including:

  • Hypersonics Technology – Requires the Secretary of Defense to designate an official to lead the Joint Hypersonics Transition office, to include responsibilities for designating a university hypersonics consortium to support basic and applied research.  Purdue and Notre Dame were mentioned as leaders in this space with advancements in wind tunnel technology.
  • Protect our Universities – Directs the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense to identify and compose a list of foreign entities, including governments, corporations, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and any subsidiary or affiliate of such an entity, that the Director and Secretary determine to pose a threat of espionage, to prevent the spread of sensitive information to nations like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. This list would help limit access to the United States’ most sensitive national security-related academic research. Uses language based on Congressman Banks’ bill, the “Protect Our Universities Act.”
  • Five Ocean Navy Strategy – Requires the Secretary of the Navy to brief the Committee on the U.S. Navy’s plan to compete with adversaries in the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, and calls for a larger, long-term force structure to address these challenges.  The language is based on Congressman Banks’ “Five Ocean Navy Strategy” Resolution.
  • Educational Options for Military Dependents – Included in the bill report as an item of special interest (ISI), the language encourages the Department of Defense to fully consider the quality of education available on and off military installations and whether additional educational options should be made available at certain geographically isolated installations. The report language is based on Congressman Banks’ Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2019.
  • Military Spouse License Reciprocity – Seeks to improve the portability of occupational licenses and certifications from state to state. This will help alleviate the burden military spouses bear when having to re-register a small business in a new state each time a service member gets reassigned to a military installation in a new state. The language is based on Congressman Banks’ Portable Certification of Spouses (PCS) Act of 2019.
  • Interagency Program Office / Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) – Sets qualification requirements for the Interagency Program Office / FEHRM director and deputy director, and instructs the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Veterans Affairs to appoint them jointly. Aims to strengthen coordination between DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs on electronic health records.

In addition to these items, Congressman Banks championed many programs that are related to Indiana defense employers like Ultra Electronics and Raytheon.