Byrne Votes for Major Defense Bill
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, a bill which Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) says brings good news for Alabama. Byrne serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where he is Vice Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee.
The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 351 to 66.
The NDAA sets policy and authorizes funding for the entire United States military, and it must be passed each year. On May 10, 2018, the NDAA passed out of the House Armed Services Committee by a strong bipartisan vote of 60 to 1.
Congressman Byrne said: “The passage of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2019 is imperative to the rebuilding and strengthening of our nation’s military. These necessary reforms will increase overall military readiness and give our servicemen and women the resources they need to keep our country safe.
“Also important this bill has a huge impact on Southwest Alabama by authorizing the construction of three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). This is good news for the 4,000 workers employed at Austal shipyard in Mobile and even better news as we work toward our goal of building a highly capable 355-ship Navy fleet.
“This year’s NDAA sends a message to our friends and our adversaries that America is back, and that while we prefer peace, we will not hesitate to do what is necessary to defend our country and protect our interests.”
This year’s National Defense Authorization Act is focused on reforming and rebuilding the military. Among the many important provisions, the bill:
- Sets topline defense spending at $717 billion for Fiscal Year 2019;
- Authorizes construction of 13 new Navy ships, including three Littoral Combat Ships;
- Calls for a 2.6% pay raise for our troops, the largest increase in nine years;
- Ensures improvements in military training and safety programs in light of recent accidents due to our current readiness crisis;
- Allows for the purchase of new equipment to replace broken and outdated items that have languished for years;
- Authorizes purchase of additional Stryker AI combat vehicles, Army Armored Brigade Combat Team vehicles, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, C-130 Super Hercules Aircraft, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, and advanced missiles.
- Invests in America’s nuclear deterrent and align it with modern threats;
- Provides adequate funding for the Missile Defense Agency;
- Holds Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran accountable for their aggressive and dangerous actions; and
- Ensures our military men and women are equipped and prepared to fight terrorism around the globe.
Click here to learn more about the FY19 NDAA.
The full transcript of Congressman Byrne’s speech can be found below.
Congressman Byrne said: “Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 908 provides for complete consideration of H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.
“The rule makes in order 168 amendments, to go along with the previous 103 amendments made in order by yesterday’s rule. That means the full House will consider 271 amendments to this year’s NDAA.
When you add in the 317 amendments considered in the Armed Services Committee, that means a total of 588 amendments to the NDAA will be considered this year.
“Mr. Speaker, for this year’s NDAA, a record number of amendments were submitted to the Rules Committee. I want to thank both the majority and minority Rules Committee staff, our Rules Associates, and the staff at the Armed Services Committee for the many hours they put into this open and deliberate process.
“As a member of both the Rules Committee and the Armed Services Committee, I’ve spent my fair share of time working on this piece of legislation.
“Like years past, I want to again highlight the bipartisan nature of our work. This year’s NDAA passed out of the Armed Services Committee on a bipartisan 60 to 1 vote. That bipartisanship will continue here on the floor, where 176 of the amendments made in order are minority or bipartisan amendments.
“The theme of this year’s NDAA is to reform and rebuild our nation’s military. The bill supports an increase in topline funding for the military as we continue working to reverse the readiness crisis we’ve faced for at least the last decade.
“Any organization, including the military, is only as good as its people, and this NDAA authorizes a 2.6% pay raise for our troops, the largest increase in nine years. This will help us retain and recruit the best and the brightest.
“The bill also calls for increases in the size of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Naval and Air Reserve, as well as the Air Guard.
“As Vice Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, I am pleased the bill authorizes construction of 13 new Navy ships. This is a much needed step as we continue building toward a 355-ship Navy fleet.
“I am especially proud that this year’s NDAA includes many provisions important to my home state of Alabama. From Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville to the Anniston Army Depot to Fort Rucker in the Wiregrass to Maxwell-Gunter in Montgomery to the Austal shipyard in Mobile, this bill ensures that Alabama will continue playing a leading role in supplying, training, and supporting our nation’s military.
“Sadly, we have lost far too many service members to training accidents over the last year, so the bill ensures improvements to military training and safety programs to help protect our service men and women.
“These efforts include repairing outdated equipment and ensuring the procurement of new, first-class capabilities. This includes additional Stryker AI combat vehicles, Army Armored Brigade Combat Team vehicles, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, C-130 Super Hercules Aircraft, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, and advanced missiles.
“The bill continues to build on Chairman Thornberry’s priority of reforming the Pentagon bureaucracy to make it more efficient and effective. This includes streamlining buying practices.
“From Russia to Iran to China to North Korea, the bill makes investments to ensure we are keeping up with our adversaries. The United States must stand ready to confront aggression around the globe, whether it is from major state actors or rogue terrorist organizations.
“Importantly, this year’s NDAA includes much needed investment in our nuclear deterrent and authorizations for the Missile Defense Agency. It authorizes funding for co-development and co-production of missile defense and weapon systems with our key ally Israel.
“All told, I am confident that this bill includes the reforms and funding levels necessary to rebuild and empower the greatest fighting force in the world. With this NDAA, we can hopefully continue to embody the strategy of peace through strength and support our service members.
“Mr. Speaker, if you ever need a pick me up or shot in the arm, I encourage you to spend some time visiting with our service men and women. These individuals come from all different walks of life and backgrounds. They all play different roles and have different jobs. But they are united by the common goal of defending and protecting the United States of America.
“I distinctly remember a conversation I had with a group of sailors from my home state of Alabama aboard the USS John C. Stennis a few years ago. After hearing about their various paths that lead to them into the Navy, I asked what I could do for them. One response was straightforward but very poignant: she asked me to make sure the American people knew what they did and that we supported them.
“That’s exactly what we do with this bill. We bring together Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, from different parts of the country, and we unite behind the common goal of supporting the men and women in uniform who protect the United States of America.
“With this bill, we can send a clear message to our sailors, soldiers, airmen, and Marines that the United States Congress has their back. That we are committed to the mission, and we will ensure they have the right policies and resources to get the job done.
“The bill also sends a message to our friends and our adversaries that America is back, and that while we prefer peace, we will not hesitate to do what is necessary to defend our country and protect our interests.
“So, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting House Resolution 908 and for the 58th year in a row, let’s pass a bipartisan NDAA.”