Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) announced her support today for passage of H.R. 5515, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019.
“The NDAA process remains the backbone of bipartisan cooperation in Congress, proving that we can still come together in the spirit of compromise and respect on issues affecting our national security and military. Though the finished product is far from ideal, it addresses a number of critical issues recognized on both sides of the aisle and includes several of my amendments, which seek to reduce sexual violence within our military and aid survivors, address misconduct by senior officers, and increase transparency about how our wars are fought and defense dollars are spent,” Rep. Speier said. “Regardless of our political affiliations, we can all agree that our military servicemembers deserve the same devotion from us that they show in their service to our country. We also owe taxpayers a full accounting of how we allocate their hard-earned tax dollars. This includes our commitment to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse of those funds.”
Several key measures championed by Rep. Speier made it into the final conference report. Though recovery from surgery kept her in California this week, she would have signed the conference report and voted for the bill were she in Washington, D.C. Highlights of the congresswoman’s amendments include:
- Requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review and report on commanders’ legal training for cases involving sexual violence.
- Requiring the Secretary of Defense to publicly publish the number of troops deployed to foreign countries, unless it would jeopardize mission safety.
- Mandating that senior officers who commit sexual violence or other crimes undergo clearance investigations to see if they should retain access to classified information, even in retirement.
- Ensuring the Department of Defense (DOD) develops a plan to implement its sexual harassment policy.
- And reducing wasteful spending on flawed weapons systems, like the disastrous Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, by requiring the Navy to explain how they will avoid repeating past mistakes.
Other proposals made by Rep. Speier that were also included in this year’s bill focused on:
- Increasing the authority of a commission investigating sexual crimes in the military and mandating that it look at how the military treats collateral misconduct.
- Requiring the Navy to determine if its work week increases sailor fatigue.
- Ensuring a program that allows foreign nationals to join the military is used responsibly.
- Monitoring new acquisition channels to ensure they are used to create better outcomes rather than skirt important safeguards.
- Requiring the Navy to incorporate results from the shock trial of a Ford class carrier into future carrier design.
- Tasking the Military Service Academies with providing students with certain information on their rights and options in the wake of sexual assault.
- And tasking the Department with measuring the cost of supporting senior officers.
During the conference process, the congresswoman also lobbied conferees and led letters signed by dozens of her peers that kept dangerous provisions out of the bill. These include:
- Environmental riders that would have reduced protections for endangered species.
- Language that would have given for-profit banks similar on-base status as not-for-profit credit unions.
- And a provision seeking to reduce foreign intelligence activities at universities, which was replaced with a more effective and enforceable measure that encourages universities and the Department of Defense to collaborate on solutions to foreign activities rather than sanction universities that happen to have students who have participated in foreign talent programs.
A summary report of the final bill can be found here.