Washington, D.C. – Today the Senate passed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA) by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 85-10. The legislation, named in honor of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), would support $716 billion in funding for national defense for fiscal year 2019 and provide America’s service members the training, resources and equipment they need. Chairman McCain released the following statement applauding the Senate’s passage of this bill:
“I am proud that the Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and I’m deeply humbled that my colleagues saw fit to do me the undeserved honor of designating it in my name,” said Chairman McCain. “This legislation continues our reform agenda and helps better position the Department of Defense and the joint force to implement the National Defense Strategy by continuing to restore readiness, rebuild capacity, and modernize capabilities.
“I am grateful to Senator Jim Inhofe for shepherding this important legislation in my absence and to Senator Jack Reed for the spirit of partnership he always brings to this endeavor. Their bipartisan collaboration represents the best of the Congress and has become a hallmark of the NDAA.
“While I wish the Senate had been able to come to an agreement to debate and vote on more amendments, I am glad the legislation proceeded under regular order and that Senators Inhofe and Reed were able to work with leadership to incorporate 45 amendments from colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And I’m proud that the Senate Armed Services Committee did its work by considering and adopting over 300 bipartisan amendments during the committee markup.
“Serving in the U.S. Senate is one of the great honors of my life, especially having a hand in 32 consecutive NDAAs. In my time as a member and now chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, 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.”
The legislation now moves to conference negotiations with the House of Representatives.
Chairman McCain’s Priorities in the NDAA
The Senate’s FY 2019 NDAA seeks to align investments, requirements, structures, policies, and authorizations with the new strategic orientation articulated in the National Defense Strategy (NDS). The following are examples of major changes or initiatives 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 NDAA:
- Provides reporting requirements asking the Secretary of Defense a series of questions on how the NDS affects the roles and missions of the military services and current requirements—including how it impacts end strength requirements, how the military will conduct the counterterrorism mission at a more sustainable cost to military readiness and resources, and how the focus on competing against peer adversaries and operating in contested environments impacts capability requirements and investments throughout the joint force.
- 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 $500 million for 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 $235 million for deployable airbase systems to improve the responsiveness and resiliency of U.S. airpower in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Authorizes $200 million to provide security assistance to Ukraine, including defensive lethal assistance.
- 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.