Congressman John Garamendi Statement on Committee Passage of FY2019 NDAA Chairman's Mark

Date: May 10, 2018
Location: Washington, DC

Today, Congressman John Garamendi, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement in response to the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) markup:

"Every year, the House Armed Services Committee goes through an exhaustive, bipartisan process to set policy for our Armed Forces. This bill authorizes $716 billion in defense spending, by far the largest defense bill authored by the Committee. As a member of the Committee, I'm satisfied that we have produced legislation that provides our men and women in uniform the support they need to successfully prosecute our nation's armed conflicts and defend us against all the threats our country faces. Our Committee works the way the public expects Congress to work: A truly bipartisan bill, amended over long hours of debate and negotiations, in pursuit of shared goals.

I'm pleased with many aspects of this bill. It provides our men and women in uniform with their highest pay raise in a decade. It requires certain ship components to be manufactured within the National Technology and Industrial Base, which further enhances our national security and creates domestic jobs. It makes needed reforms to laws that define the roles and responsibilities of the Coast Guard, and creates an independent commission to study military aviation safety in light of a series of recent incidents.

This is also a good bill for the district I represent. It authorizes $35 million for Travis Air Force Base to modernize its air cargo handling system, a critical upgrade that will further support its mission within Air Mobility Command as Gateway to the Pacific. It also adds needed funding for upgrades to the U2 mission at Beale.

However, I remain concerned with some of this bill's provisions about America's nuclear forces. We're already on track to spend $1.2 trillion over the next thirty years to modernize our nuclear arsenal, and that figure does not include the development of the low-yield warheads suggested in the Trump Administration's recent Nuclear Posture Review. I am extremely concerned about the NDAA authorization of $65 million to develop a low-yield warhead for our nation's submarine-launched ballistic missiles. These tactical weapons will dramatically alter how we use our nuclear forces, increasing risks of miscalculation and further fueling a dangerous arms race. I am disappointed that efforts to limit funds for the development of these dangerous weapons were rejected.

When it comes to spending, our choices have real consequences. Every dollar we spend on unnecessary nuclear weapons is a dollar we're not spending on providing health care, rebuilding our infrastructure, or educating our children. America's financial resources are not limitless. We do not have the ability to fund our domestic priorities, spend a trillion dollars on nuclear weapons, and waste one and a half trillion on a tax giveaway to the rich. Congress needs to make choices, and I am worried that it will choose to fund unnecessary nuclear weapons and cut taxes for the rich, while leaving our children and seniors behind."