Langevin Applauds House Passage of Final Fiscal Year 2021 Defense Bill

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities and a member of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, today voted to advance the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 6395, the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021. The FY21 NDAA authorizes approximately $732 billion in spending for national defense, including approximately $69 billion for overseas contingencies operations. It passed the House by a vote of 335-78-1 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

The defense bill, which is expected to be passed by Congress for a 60th consecutive year, includes a three percent pay increase for service members; makes critical investments in military infrastructure, technology, and training; and establishes an independent commission to undertake the removal of Confederate names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia from Department of Defense facilities. It also includes Langevin’s National Cyber Director Act, the culmination of more than a decade of work to ensure someone is in charge of cybersecurity within the White House.

“This year’s bipartisan defense bill will make crucial investments to maintain the United States’ readiness, expand our capabilities, and provide critical support to our troops to keep our country secure,” said Langevin. “Providing for the common defense means ensuring our service members can carry out their missions effectively by establishing policies and programs that will make our nation more resilient for the threats of today and those of tomorrow. From well-deserved raises for our service members to promoting diversity and inclusion among ranks and advancing policies that reinforce a more comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy, this legislation will better position us to protect Americans and our interests.”

Langevin fought to reject President Trump’s cuts to the submarine force, and the final bill includes funds for a second Virginia-class submarine. General Dynamics Electric Boat does significant work on the Virginia-class and the new Columbia-class submarine programs in Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District at Quonset. Langevin also successfully advocated for provisions to help attract and retain top science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, talent to boost the nation’s defense workforce; implement cybersecurity reforms based on 27 recommendations included in the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s report released in March; enact artificial intelligence policies based on 10 recommendations from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence; and confront emerging biological threats following the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, based on a Langevin amendment, the bill will require the Department of Defense to update its climate change adaptation roadmap to plan for and confront the national security impacts of climate change.

In last year’s NDAA, Langevin included a civics education pilot program at Department of Defense schools and funded the pilot with $2 million. The program underscores how civics can help protect against foreign mis- and disinformation campaigns and covers critical thinking, media literacy, voting and other forms of civic engagement. The FY21 NDAA renews $2 million in funding and directs implementation to begin no later than 120 days after the bill is signed.

“As threats evolve, being more secure requires that we take action today, and that’s what this bill allows us to do. I’m excited that it supports local manufacturing and jobs in Rhode Island at Electric Boat. This year’s defense bill is also, hands down, the biggest cyber bill Congress has ever passed, and it includes several amendments I authored that codify actionable recommendations from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission for a forward-leaning, layered cybersecurity strategy,” continued Langevin. “In a world in which online connectivity is becoming more important for government, business, and the operation of critical infrastructure, cybersecurity is a national security imperative. The establishment of a National Cyber Director in the Executive Office of the President to oversee and lead a whole-of-nation strategy, coupled with efforts to ensure our forces have world-class talent and the ability to innovate, are vital to protecting the homeland. I urge my Senate colleagues to give this bipartisan bill all due consideration and advance it to the President’s desk to become law.”

Highlights of the FY21 NDAA.