Spanberger Votes to Send Strong Defense Authorization Bill to President’s Desk, Slams President Trump’s Veto Threat

The Congresswoman Voted in Support of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which Includes a Raise for Servicemembers, as well as Provisions She Supported to Impose Sanctions on Turkey, Increase Transparency in Federal Spending, & Address Rural Suicide Rates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today voted with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a strong bill to authorize U.S. Department of Defense funding levels and set national security priorities.

The package passed in the U.S. House today focuses on maintaining the strength of the U.S. military, protecting servicemembers, and building resilience against future threats. Among its provisions, the bill includes a measure to provide U.S. servicemembers with a three-percent pay raise. The defense authorization bill also includes provisions Spanberger co-led to hold the Turkish government accountable for purchasing Russian defense systems, increase transparency in federal spending, and address rising rates of suicide across rural America.

Spanberger — a Member of the conference committee that worked out the differences between the U.S. House and U.S. Senate versions of the fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to produce the conference legislation that both chambers are voting on this week — also spoke out against President Donald Trump’s threat to veto the legislation.

“Our country is facing a wide range of threats — including an ongoing public health emergency and economic crisis here at home. President Trump’s threat to veto this legislation is yet another reckless, misguided move from this administration when it comes to our national security strategy,” said Spanberger. “The NDAA passed in the House today — with support from both Democrats and Republicans — provides our servicemembers with the pay raise, tools, and training necessary to keep our communities strong and safe. Additionally, at a time when our nation’s alliances and partnerships are strained around the world, I’m encouraged to see the inclusion of my bipartisan legislation to hold the Turkish government accountable for threatening the security of our NATO allies. I’ve been proud to serve as a conferee throughout the negotiations of this critical legislation, and I look forward to building a Defense Department that protects those who put on the uniform and prepares for the tremendous challenges we face in the weeks, months, and years ahead.”

The bipartisan, bicameral defense bill includes multiple provisions Spanberger co-led, including:

  • Holding Turkey accountable for actions that threaten the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies. The defense authorization bill includes language from a bipartisan amendment co-led by Spanberger and U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) that would require the imposition of sanctions on Turkey. This serious action would be in response to the Turkish government’s acquisition of the S-400 air and missile defense system from the Russian Federation, which has jeopardized the security of NATO and compromised trust in the Turkish government.
  • Increasing transparency in federal spending. The NDAA includes legislation Spanberger cosponsored to shine a light on federal spending and to help identify instances of waste. The Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to publish an online inventory of each federal agency’s programs. This inventory would also provide a description of these programs, as well as information about the program’s cost and performance. The legislation was highlighted in a 2019 editorial from the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star.
  • Addressing high suicide rates in rural America. The Spanberger-cosponsored Seeding Rural Resilience Act would provide voluntary stress management training to Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency, and National Resources Conservation Service Employees through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Spanberger-supported defense authorization bill includes additional provisions that would strengthen U.S. national security, support servicemembers and veterans, and reassert American values, including:

  • Giving servicemembers the pay raise they deserve. The bipartisan bill includes a 3 percent pay raise for servicemen and women.
  • Providing for the removal of names of Confederates from U.S. military bases. The defense bill establishes — based on bipartisan legislation — an independent commission to make binding recommendations to the Secretary of Defense for the modification or removal of all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America, or individuals who voluntarily took up arms against the United States by serving the Confederacy, from all installations and assets of the Department of Defense.
  • Strengthening resilience against future pandemics. The NDAA includes provisions to address the military’s role in COVID-19 response, such as requiring the Pentagon to maintain personal protective equipment for all servicemembers, directing the U.S. Secretary of Defense to develop a national pandemic response strategy, and expanding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ telehealth capabilities.
  • Establishing a Chief Diversity Officer at the Defense Department. The legislation establishes a Chief Diversity Officer reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense, as well as a Chief Diversity Officer in each of the military service branches. The bill also requires the Secretary of Defense to establish a Diversity and Inclusion Council to help develop a strategy to increase diversity in the military mirroring the U.S. population, which would be included in the National Defense Strategy.

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