DEFENSE

Senate passes 2021 NDAA with veto-proof majority

NOTE: This article first appeared on FCW.com.

The U.S. Senate passed its version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, 86-14, that includes provisions that support renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders and to fight workplace racial discrimination for military personnel.

The July 23 vote comes days after the White House threatened to veto the bill over mandates to rename military bases.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version July 21, which includes a review and mandate to rename the bases within a year. The Senate bill calls for a similar review and gives DOD three years to implement changes. Both houses passed their bills with veto-proof majorities.

The 2021 defense policy bill came about during nationwide protests about racial injustice and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd in May. In the wake of his death, the Defense Department and military services have seen an outpouring from leadership on their experiences with racism. That then gave way to announcing several initiatives to evaluate and address discrimination throughout DOD, including banning the display of confederate flags.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) sponsored provisions that require DOD to report on servicemembers’ experiences with “racist, anti-Semitic, or supremacist activity” in the workplace, and mandate a Government Accountability Office study on diversity and inclusion that looks at disparities in promotion rates by gender, race, and ethnicity.

The House version has similar provisions targeting systemic change, starting with the Pentagon and military services designating chief diversity officers. If finalized in conference, the defense secretary would also have to create a diversity and inclusion council to assess and increase racial, ethnic, and gender diversity and make it part of the National Defense Strategy.

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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