HASC Releases Preliminary Fiscal 2020 Defense Policy Bill

The House Armed Services Committee released its preliminary version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020 on Monday, but committee leaders do not see eye-to-eye on everything included — or excluded — from the bill.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the HASC chairman, said the proposal “will address our country’s greatest military threats by authorizing a defense enterprise that is inclusive, accountable, and responsible in the management of its resources.”

The Smith-led bill authorizes a topline budget of $733 billion for national defense, which is short of the Trump administration’s $750 billion request.

It includes a 3.1% pay raise for service members, and requires the Defense Department to plan for climate change and implements a number of acquisition reforms.

The proposal would also prohibit the use of DoD funds for construction of a border wall and would require that DoD be reimbursed for support on the southern border and certification that such a deployment would not harm a unit’s readiness.

Items of particular interest to the Guard include additional funding for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account, funding for propulsion and propeller upgrades to C-130H aircraft and the authorization of early retirement credit for service members who deploy under authority 12304b.

The NDAA proposal would also authorize the Guard to access Defense Environmental Remediation Account Funds, for five years, to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances exposure and contamination in and around Guard facilities.

This week, representatives are expected to propose numerous amendments to the bill before it is considered by the committee. It will also need to be approved by the House as a whole.

The HASC ranking member, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said he supports many of the proposals in the bill, including those related to oversight, investments in science and technology, Guard and Reserve equipment and improvements to military pay and support for housing and sexual assault prevention.

But Thornberry said other aspects of the bill give him concern, including the $17 billion in cuts from the president’s budget request and the omission of language pertaining to a Space Force.

He also said chairman’s mark of the NDAA is “overly prescriptive with its presumptive ban on construction projects” at the southern border and criticized the 240 new reporting requirements that the bill would impose on DoD.

“Traditionally, the NDAA earns broad bipartisan support from members on both sides of the aisle. Recently, this support has allowed Congress to arrest a lethal crisis in military readiness, provide support to troops and their families, reform the Pentagon to bring needed efficiency and agility, and guide and oversee the President and DoD on critical national security matters,” Thornberry said. “I hope Congress can continue that tradition this year.

There are a number of provisions in the bill that meet that standard. There are others that are troubling.”

Bill text and a summary of the NDAA proposal is on the HASC website. Thornberry’s response is available on the HASC Republicans website.