DEFENSE

2020 NDAA clears the House

NOTE: This story first appeared on FCW.com.

In a 377-48 vote, the Democratic-led House passed the final version of the 2020 defense policy bill, which authorizes $738 billion in spending, includes a three-year intelligence authorization bill and stands up the much-debated Space Force as a new military branch.

The passage of the bill brought praise from the Professional Services Council, a leading industry group, who voiced support for provisions that will make federal contracting more effective and competitive. The NDAA also included Intelligence Authorization Act that will reform the security clearance process.

The bill now heads to the Senate. President Donald Trump expressed support for the bill ahead of the Dec. 11 vote in a tweet, praising it for raising military pay 3%, 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees and, of course, Space Force.

But while many members applauded the bill for the same reasons, debate on the House floor turned cautionary. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) spent nearly 10 minutes in closing remarks, punctuating Congress’ need to be responsible stewards of the $738 billion bill.

“I am supporting this bill but, as I have urged privately both [to] the chairman and the ranking member, we need to look very carefully on how we’re expending this amount of money to ensure that it is spent effectively,” Hoyer said. “The pot is not unlimited.”

Hoyer also noted that national security extends beyond the Defense Department and encompasses areas, namely education and health care, that directly affect the American people.

A two-year budget deal passed in August secured top-line funding for DOD in fiscal 2020 and 2021, but congressional concerns over budgeting and spending management linger.

The original House bill, Hoyer said, “included $733 billion and we have no more security because of that extra $5 billion.”

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the ranking member for the House Armed Services Committee, said during floor remarks that dollar amounts don’t guarantee security. He said that defense spending is more about getting value for the taxpayer and ensuring warfighters get the best technology, training, and equipment available.

“It’s wrong to send them out there on that mission without providing the best that this country can provide,” Thornberry said.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at lwilliams@fcw.com, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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