Press Releases

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced the completion of the committee’s markup of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA). The committee voted overwhelmingly, 25-2, to pass the bill, which supports $716 billion in funding national defense for fiscal year 2019. During the markup, 303 amendments—offered by both Republican and Democratic members—were considered and adopted. The legislation now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“I am proud that the Senate Armed Services Committee voted overwhelmingly to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” said Senator McCain. “I am also deeply humbled that my colleagues saw fit to do me the undeserved honor of designating this year’s NDAA in my name. This legislation continues the committee’s reform agenda and helps better position the Department of Defense and the joint force to effectively implement the new National Defense Strategy even as it works to restore readiness, rebuild capacity, and modernize capabilities. I’m especially proud that the committee voted to incorporate over 300 amendments from members on both sides of the aisle during markup.

“I have served on this committee as it has considered and passed 32 consecutive NDAAs. While my colleagues and I worked on this year’s bill, I have had occasion to reflect on how the Senate Armed Services Committee has been so meaningful to me since my first days on Capitol Hill. Among its leaders, I have counted the most cherished of mentors and friends: John Tower, Barry Goldwater, Sam Nunn, John Warner, and Carl Levin. And in the committee’s work, I have found high purpose in the service of a cause greater than self—the cause of the women and men in uniform who defend America and all she stands for. That is why it has been one of the greatest honors of my tenure in the U.S. Senate to serve as its chairman.

“I count myself fortunate to have had Senator Jack Reed as my partner in this endeavor. We come from different parties and different backgrounds. We’ve had disagreements on the issues of the day. But through it all, we have done our level best to work collaboratively to discharge the constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense, which is the committee’s solemn trust.

“I’d also like to express my thanks to Senator Jim Inhofe for shepherding the NDAA through the committee markup in my absence this year. I am grateful for his leadership in presiding over committee hearings in my absence.

“My term as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has been far from perfect. But I am proud that over the last four years, members of the committee have upheld the Senate’s finest traditions, embraced regular order, worked within our peculiar rules and customs, and accepted the necessity of compromise. Thanks to my colleagues’ commitment to principled legislating, I believe the NDAA will continue to serve as an example of how the Senate can and should work: every year, a bill reported out of committee with contributions from both sides, brought to the floor for amendment and debate, passed in the Senate, conferenced with the House, passed again by both chambers, and signed into law by the President—imperfect, full of compromises, unsatisfactory for partisans on either side, but always striving to make incremental progress on solving problems and defending America from her adversaries.”

Chairman’s Priorities in the NDAA

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s FY 2019 NDAA seeks to align investments, requirements, structures, policies, and authorizations with the new strategic orientation articulated in the National Defense Strategy. The following are examples of major changes or initiatives the committee included in the NDAA with specific thought to implementation of the NDS. Further details on these items can be found in the committee’s bill summary. The SASC mark:

  • Modifies the responsibilities of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to make primary of his duties the development of defense strategy and the translation of that strategy into detailed policy guidance for force development, operational planning, defense posture, joint force assessment, and readiness.
  • Expands the duties of an existing position to create a new Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans, Assessments, Readiness, and Capabilities to exert strong civilian leadership in the development of defense strategy and its translation into detailed policy.
  • Establishes a senior designated official and an associated cross-functional team to update the Electronic Warfare strategy.
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to submit the Defense Planning Guidance, the Contingency Planning Guidance or Guidance for the Employment of the Force, and the Global Defense Posture Report to the Congress.
  • Modernizes the officer personnel system to provide career flexibility and better serve the demands of today’s force.
  • Adds an additional $600 million to science and technology programs that are key to advancing warfighting capabilities, to include hypersonics, space constellation, rocket propulsion, directed energy, and quantum information sciences. 
  • Gives the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering directive authority for priority emerging technologies for one year.
  • Authorizes $200 million to provide security assistance to Ukraine, including defensive lethal assistance.
  • Directs the Army to acquire an interim short-term capability to fill gaps in cruise missile defense, which is a critical capability to defend against Chinese and Russian threats.
  • Authorizes $100 million to procure Marine Corps light attack aircraft.
  • Authorizes $100 million to Marine Corps procure a Group 5 Unmanned Aerial System.
  • Authorizes $350 million to procure Air Force light attack aircraft.
  • Authorizes $80 million for the Air Force to prototype low cost attritable aircraft.
  • Authorizes $70 million to prototype the next generation combat vehicle.
  • Authorizes an additional $110 million to procure 10 Paladin Integrated Management sets above the administration’s request.
  • Authorizes an additional $20 million to accelerate the development of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery gun.
  • Authorizes Active-Duty end strength at the following levels:
    • 485,741 in the Army;
    • 331,900 in the Navy;
    • 186,100 in the Marine Corps; and
    • 325,720 in the Air Force.

The full summary of the bill can be found here.

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