Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, June 18th, 2019, Today, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor about the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to fund the military. The legislation includes several projects that will directly benefit Tennessee’s military community.
Remarks as Prepared:
Thank you, Mister President.
As we move toward debate over the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020, I would like to remind my colleagues that while we stand prepared to negotiate its various provisions, our military men and women stand at the ready for a much more serious task—the defense of our nation.
As we consider this year’s NDAA, we must do so with the understanding that our nation is faced with new, sophisticated threats to our way of life and to the world order.
Two emerging warfighting domains – cyber and space – pose increased threats to national infrastructure, and our way of engaging with both allies and adversaries.
Debating “defense spending” means thinking beyond helicopters and submarines and viewing this authorization in the larger context of multi- and unseen-domain warfare.
That’s why my colleagues and I on the Senate Armed Services Committee have come to the table with a bill that shores up funding for legacy programs, and devotes new funding to address these emerging threats.
First and foremost, this bill authorizes a 3.1% pay increase for the members of our Armed Forces—a justified and well-earned raise that recognizes their commitment to defending against unfamiliar threats that rise above and beyond the everyday service member’s scope of duty.
We have found ourselves once more in the midst of Great Power Competition. America will always have rivals on the world stage, and over the past decade we’ve seen countries like China and Russia pursue increasingly sophisticated and lethal weapons systems.
We have no choice but to recognize this emerging reality, and give our military men and women the tools they need to combat developing threats, and preserve U.S. preeminence across all warfighting domains.
With this funding we’ll prioritize more sophisticated cybersecurity and space-based strategies, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies.
We will take steps to protect the integrity of our supply chain so that we can be confident the microelectronics we depend on have not been corrupted by foreign spyware.
A good defense is only as strong as its weakest link, and this bill will allow us to shore up our relationships with the defense industrial base, and ensure that contractors are not under the undue influence of foreign actors.
Our mark includes full funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is critical to our nuclear modernization program.
I think that it is worth nothing that our friends in the House cut over $70 million from infrastructure and facility operations, which goes toward rebuilding crumbling buildings at the NNSA’s plants and labs.
Modern and responsive nuclear infrastructure is an essential part of credible deterrence – which is a critical concern in Great Power Competition. Funding for these projects must not end up as a casualty of budget negotiations.
Now, it is true that this is a massive authorization, and that much of the funding we authorize won’t manifest itself in new visible hardware.
But I encourage my friends in this body: don’t let this deter you from seeing the big picture. “National defense” is no longer limited to tools and infrastructure we can see.
We must focus our defense budget on future threats, not those of the past – in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past – and I believe that this year’s NDAA accomplishes just that.
I yield the floor.
Senator Blackburn and the Senate Armed Services Committee completed the 2020 NDAA markup on May 23rd, 2019.
The executive summary of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 can be found here.