James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 8, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank him for his tremendous leadership to protect and defend the American people and our Constitution. I thank the gentleman for his kind words about my colleague from San Francisco, Jackie Speier, for her leadership on behalf of the men and women in uniform.

Mr. Speaker, what an honor it is to speak on this important legislation with you in the chair, a champion for the security of the American people, whether on the Armed Services Committee, the Intelligence Committee, other initiatives, whether it is cybersecurity or the rest, you have been a leader. You have taught us a lot about your areas of expertise and more, and because of you, we were able, on one of the anniversaries of the ADA, to change the infrastructure of the House so that you could preside.

Mr. Speaker, you were the first to preside, and now as we come to the end of your service and your leadership in the Congress--not in the world--that you should be in the chair is an honor for all of us. You bring honor to this Congress, to that position, and I thank you for your service and your leadership, Mr. Langevin of Rhode Island.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this year's strong bipartisan, bicameral National Defense Authorization Act, the foundation of America's national security priorities.

This legislation honors our fundamental charge under the United States Constitution to provide for the common defense. That is why Democrats have fought tirelessly to invest in our Nation's greatest sources of strength, from our heroic servicemen and -women and their families to promoting American leadership around the globe.

Thanks to the distinguished chair of the Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, as well as the ranking member, Mike Rogers, and all the members of the committee and staff for your tireless work assembling this bipartisan, bicameral legislative package. That is what makes it stronger, its bipartisanship.

I would like to talk about some of the things that are in the legislation because as our country grows and our needs are greater, the cost goes up, as well. But how those resources are prioritized is very important to our colleagues who are making their vote known to the public to whom we are accountable to understand our definition of strength.

That starts with the deeply deserved 4.6 percent pay raise to help ease the sting of inflation for our men and women in uniform. We are also empowering the Pentagon to raise the basic housing allowance, bringing down food prices by directing more funding to commissaries, and expanding support for childcare services; meaning the personal needs of our personnel are so very important, and this legislation does just that.

Building on the sweeping progress in last year's NDAA to combat sexual assault in the military, this year we require independently trained investigators outside the immediate chain of command to investigate claims of sexual harassment, as well. Our colleague Jackie Speier was so important in all of that.

Importantly, we blocked an anti-choice demand to eliminate the right to travel to access legal abortion for servicemembers stationed in a State that criminalizes reproductive health. Because for Democrats, health freedom is a value for every woman everywhere.

Additionally, this legislation delivers a record amount of funding for research and development at America's HBCUs and steers additional funding to other minority-serving institutions. This is so important because Democrats--and now Republicans--know that we must build a diverse, inclusive national security workforce, one reflective of our Nation.

By investing in these essential engines of opportunity, we expand the talent pipeline and make sure our Nation's brightest minds will help solve our toughest national security challenges with inclusiveness, with diversity, with our best.

At the same time, we are investing in America's global preeminence. It is a national security imperative to honor our troops with cutting- edge technologies, equipping them to tackle complex 21st century threats. You know this so well, Mr. Speaker, as does our chair and ranking member. We are harnessing the power of clean energy to ensure that our defense facilities and vehicle fleets are resilient to climate change.

Meanwhile, we are nurturing a growing semiconductor industry which we reinvigorated earlier this year with the CHIPS and Science Act.

Now, the NDAA will require government contracts to use chips that are made in America: creating good-paying jobs here at home, securing our supply chains, and bolstering our economic competitiveness.

This year's NDAA also makes robust progress to promote American leadership in the global arena. The safety of families here at home depends on international security and stability.

So with this legislation, we ensure that America and our allies maintain a military and qualitative edge in strategic regions across the world, investing more than $11 billion in the Pacific Deterrence Initiative; securing more than $6 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative; and further support for Ukraine's fight for freedom through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

Indeed, Democrats know that the security of our Nation is not only measured in our military might, but also in the health, strength, and our well-being, and the respect we have for our partners.

As I draw to a conclusion--I didn't say close--I just want to salute the people of Ukraine and President Zelenskyy for their courage. In fighting for their democracy, they are fighting for our democracy and the democracies of their neighbors in Europe, as well, and really throughout the world. So, we have a moral responsibility, as well as a practical one, to support our Ukraine initiatives.

Importantly, there are two additional provisions the Democrats fought to attach to this legislative package. The first is a version of the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act, a long-sought Democratic priority to make it easier for Federally employed firefighters who contract certain diseases to qualify for Federal workers' compensation.

Our firefighters are our nobility. They risk their lives, putting their lives on the line to protect our families, our homes, our communities from devastation. With this provision, we take another step to deliver the benefits they are entitled to that they have earned.

The second initiative, and very consequential, is the oceans package. It is a very important and, I understand, bipartisan initiative closely negotiated with military leaders. This bipartisan legislation is a force for America's national security and economic competitiveness.

Mr. Speaker, 4 in 10 Americans live in coastal counties, and the well-being of every family depends on strong, secure water sources. By taking action to conserve our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes, we are protecting jobs and businesses, ensuring resilient access to clean water, and preserving invaluable aquatic life and their natural habitat.

Our military leaders repeatedly have told us that the climate crisis is a top threat facing our Nation. The climate crisis is a security issue. So we are also modernizing the NOAA Corps and securing more hurricane hunter aircrafts to help protect communities from extreme weather and climate disaster.

Mr. Speaker, today, we are confronting threats to democracy here and around the world. Again, I would, in closing, once again salute President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine. Their fight for democracy is ours, as well. We have not only a moral but also a strategic responsibility to continue to support their fearless fight as we do in this legislation.

In order to uphold our sacred responsibility and ensure that Americans are safe and America is secure, I urge a strong bipartisan vote for the NDAA. Then, we will send it to the Senate and on to the President to become the law of the land. My understanding is that there is agreement between the House and the Senate in a bipartisan way as we send this on.

Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Rogers for his great leadership in all of this.

On a separate note, we are overjoyed that Brittney Griner is on her way home after the President's tireless and focused work to secure her release. Earlier today, we passed the Marriage Protection Act, and we are so happy that she will be joining her wife when she comes home.

Again, Congress remains firmly committed to supporting the administration as it continues to work to secure the release of Paul Whelan and all those who Putin has unjustly detained. I just saw on the news as I was coming over here that Paul Whelan said the President made the right decision to get Brittney, trade for that, and then keep the focus to get him free.

Again, I support Chair Smith and Ranking Member Rogers for their great leadership in accomplishing a bipartisan, strong bill that again keeps our country strong and measures our might in terms of our hardware, of course, but also, in terms of the people who keep us strong. We are deeply in their debt.

Mr. Speaker, I urge a strong bipartisan vote.