Langevin Applauds Passage of Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and Chairman of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities, released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 6395, the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which passed the House by a vote of 295-125 and authorizes $732 billion in national defense spending including $69 billion for overseas contingency operations:

“In keeping with longstanding tradition, the House has come together to pass a bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act that will ensure we continue our strong support for our troops and their families, help our nation combat the most pressing threats we face, and better prepare and equip our armed forces for the challenges of the future. Being part of this critical process is a privilege each year, and I thank my colleagues for their tireless work to reach consensus with the best interests of our nation and our service members in mind.

“The Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA reflects key priorities for our country and for Rhode Island. It will foster stronger collaboration and inclusiveness as well as support the Ocean State’s critical defense manufacturing sector. From a well-deserved 3 percent pay increase for troops to a nearly $600 million increase in science and technology funding, this bill is a good product that sets our nation on a course to be stronger and more resilient. I am particularly proud that we support vital cybersecurity provisions based on my work on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, including my National Cyber Director Act to ensure coordination on cybersecurity in the White House. 

“For Rhode Island, I am thrilled to have worked with Chairman Courtney to lead the restoration of billions in funding to build two Virginia-class submarines after a cut by the Administration and to fully fund the new Columbia-class submarine program, the Navy's top acquisitions priority. The FY21 NDAA will help ensure our warfighters have access to the most capable fleet in the world so they never enter a fair fight. I have high confidence in these cutting-edge ships because they will be assembled with the support of local manufacturers and by the hard-working men and women of Electric Boat at Quonset Point. I also fought to include significant funds to support defense projects being spearheaded by Rhode Island businesses and institutions of higher education.

“To help maintain America’s edge and protect against malicious cyber actors, this bill prioritizes cybersecurity, a topic that becomes more important every day as the newest domain of warfare where our adversaries challenge both our security and our economy. In addition to establishing a National Cyber Director to lead a whole-of-nation cybersecurity strategy, I worked to empower the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. I’m proud to have led amendments to enable CISA to better protect critical infrastructure by warning companies of vulnerabilities and clarifying sector risk management agencies’ roles and responsibilities so they can enable CISA’s mission as the nation’s risk adviser.

“Our country is also going through an important period of reflection as we grapple with issues of systemic racism and police brutality. I understand the deep reservations many Americans have about our honoring Confederate leaders by having their names on military installations, and I am proud our bill will ensure those names are removed and the scars can begin to heal. I am also proud that we will prohibit in law the display of the Confederate Battle Flag on military bases. The Confederate flag has been an embodiment of fear and division for too many, and it is past time the government stopped turning a blind eye to its use. These provisions will not heal the rifts that have been laid bare in recent months, but they are important steps nonetheless and represent a continuing conversation Congress is having on racial equality.

“I was also proud to vote for limitations on the Insurrection Act, which the President carelessly threatened to invoke against peaceful protesters earlier this summer. The First Amendment comes first in our country. I will always protect this right and hold the Administration accountable to do the same.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a spotlight on the nation’s lapses in preparedness and response efforts to a crisis. To ensure we are prepared for biological threats, whether natural or human-made, I championed the restoration of $135 million to the Department of Defense’s Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which was slashed by the President. We also allocate over $1 billion in research funding for pandemic preparedness and response. Further, to combat dis- and mis-information campaigns by foreign actors and encourage participation in our electoral process, this legislation reauthorizes funding for the Civics Education Pilot program I prioritized last year and expands it to include media literacy.

“Finally, climate change is real, and it is having a real impact on national security. The Department of Defense must address this glaring issue with a sense of urgency. During committee consideration of the NDAA, I offered an amendment to require the Department to update its Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, last issued in 2014. On the floor, I worked with my colleagues Representatives Spanberger and Neguse to further strengthen the review. Now is the time to tackle climate change with strategic policy and investments for a greener, more resilient future.”

A fact sheet on the Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA is available here