Conference Report on H.R. William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 8, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. THORNBERRY. Stefanik).

Mr. WILSON of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I congratulate Chairman Adam Smith and Ranking Member Mac Thornberry for their dedicated work on developing this bipartisan bill appropriately named in honor of Chairman Mac Thornberry, an American patriot.

As a member of the conference committee, I appreciated the opportunity to work on another historically important NDAA. Enactment of this bill will be the 60th consecutive fiscal year that the NDAA has passed, exhibiting the true bipartisan nature of the process.

I am thankful for the provision of a 3 percent military pay increase, which represents the first time in a decade the troops have consecutively received a salary boost of at least 3 percent.

The most recent report contains the Guardian and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, a bipartisan bill introduced with Representative Andy Kim. I was grateful to lead a letter with Representative Kim urging its inclusion.

I am also especially grateful that my bill, the Body Armor for Females Modernization Act, was included to ensure that female servicemembers have the right equipment from day one.

This legislation contains the Small Manufacturer Cybersecurity Enhancement Act, a bill I introduced with Representative Jimmy Panetta, which will allow the Department to partner with manufacturing extension partnership centers to provide assistance to small manufacturers.

There is full funding for the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative at USC Aiken and PILT and pit production at the Savannah River site.

It also incorporates a bipartisan bill I introduced with Representative Ed Perlmutter to ensure continued funding for the Office of the Ombudsman in the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Program.

I appreciate the success of staff member Drew Kennedy and military fellow Major Jeremy Tillman.

I support this conference report, remembering 9/11 and the murderous attacks, by defeating the terrorists overseas.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all Members to vote in favor.

Mr. THORNBERRY. Cheney), the distinguished Chair of the Republican Conference.

Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. McCaul), the distinguished ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I understand that the chairman has no further speakers.

Mr. Speaker, I would begin by expressing my gratitude and admiration for Chairman Adam Smith and our ability to work together over a number of years, as well as to the members on both sides of the Armed Services Committee and our colleagues in the Senate, Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed.

Like Chairman Smith, I also want to pay particular attention, gratitude, and honors to our professional staff. They started this conference process in July, and they have been working all these months to make sure that every detail was as right as we could make it. I particularly want to thank Dan Sennott, who had the responsibility of answering my phone calls on nights and weekends and so forth. Our staff worked with the professionalism and patriotism that would make all Americans proud if they could see it.

I also appreciate the generous words of my colleagues and having my name attached to this bill. This bill is one of which I am very proud. It strengthens our country's security in many ways. But as grateful as I am, I do not lose sight of the fact that this bill is not--and this bill has never been in 60 years--about any of us. It is not about us or our political agendas or our political grievances.

This bill is about the men and women who risk their lives to protect and defend us and our freedoms and their families. This bill is about American national security. We have been able to come together on those things for 60 years, whatever other differences we may have had.

Without this bill, both the troops and America's national security will be hurt. Now, Members need to understand that and accept responsibility for the consequences of their vote. That damage that would happen without this bill cannot be papered over with some executive order or any appropriation bill, and it won't or it can't be repaired by a new bill in a new Congress with a new administration.

I know we can always find an excuse to vote against a bill, especially an excuse about what is not in it. So I will admit right here that this bill does not fix healthcare. This bill does not fix immigration. It does not raise or lower taxes. And it does nothing regarding the legal liability of social media companies. All of those things need attention and some kind of action.

But our troops should not be punished because this bill does not fix everything that needs to be fixed or it doesn't have a provision exactly the way we would want it.

The main reason this bill has been signed into law every year for 59 straight years is because of its substance. But like the chairman, I just want to add a note about process.

This committee started collecting proposals in January in a database that would be ultimately included in this bill. It went through all the subcommittees, the full committee, a conference process, and hundreds of amendments have been considered one way or another.

Every step of the way, Members shape it. In fact, we could easily identify close to 200 Members of the House that have a provision that can be linked to them in one way or another that are in this bill, and I think that is unique, frankly, in Congress today. If the 6-decade legacy of having this bill signed into law ends with us after 59 years, then I am afraid that process of having hundreds of Members contribute would end as well.

A very strong vote will help prevent that. The stronger the vote, the smoother the process from here on out. A strong vote will show the troops that we support them. A strong vote will show the adversaries that we can stand together to support this Nation, and that is what this bill is really all about.