Langevin Supports Committee Passage of 2019 Defense Bill

May 10, 2018 Issues: Armed Services, Cybersecurity

Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities (ETC), offered his support for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed out of committee early this morning by a vote of 60-1. Each year, Congress passes the defense bill to set policy and funding levels for the nation’s armed forces, and this year’s bill authorizes $639 billion in spending for national defense, $69 billion for overseas contingency operations, and a 2.6 percent pay increase for military service members.

“Every year, I am proud to join my colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats, and deliver a bill that puts our brave service members first,” said Langevin. “Now more than ever, it is critical we provide clear, sound guidance to the Department of Defense as it seeks to protect the United States from threats across the globe. As these threats, from both great powers and non-state actors, continue to evolve and expand into new domains like cyberspace, we must come together and provide for our common defense. Our effort today will make critical investments and set important policy that will ultimately keep us safe at home and protect our interests abroad.”

During the months leading up to the marathon mark up, Langevin worked across the aisle with ETC Subcommittee Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to produce the ETC portion of the larger bill. These provisions, which were adopted by voice vote, strengthen DOD cyber operations, enhance innovation, encourage more risk-taking in the furtherance of advanced research, improve oversight, provide for special operations forces, and increase preparedness for countering weapons of mass destruction.

The ETC portion of the NDAA also invests in advanced technologies and important national security initiatives, including $40 million in additional funding for both Navy and Army electromagnetic railgun programs. It continues support for DOD’s Cyber Scholarship Program that Langevin, who co-founded and co-chairs the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, reinvigorated last year and that will encourage talented cybersecurity students to explore careers in the Department of Defense. It also incorporates a measure developed by Representatives Langevin, Stefanik, Mac Thornberry (R-TX), and Adam Smith (D-WA) to allow the State Department’s Global Engagement Center to formally direct the government’s efforts to counter foreign disinformation and propaganda.

“It is critical that the Department of Defense be encouraged to take calculated risks as we work to combat new, pressing challenges that demand creative solutions. With China and Russia challenging our technological superiority, we cannot just play defense,” said Langevin. “Instead, we must promote and accelerate the adoption of game-changing technologies including hypersonics, directed energy, and applications of artificial intelligence.”

The NDAA also includes robust funding for Virginia-class and Columbia-class submarines, delivering $1 billion beyond what was requested in the President’s budget for the Virginia-class program. These investments will help ensure continued naval and strategic superiority while directly supporting Rhode Island jobs at General Dynamics Electric Boat facilities at Quonset Point.

In a continued effort to strengthen the ability of the Department to prepare for the effects of climate change, Langevin included a provision in the bill to require DoD to include energy and climate resiliency efforts as a factor for consideration in major military installation master plans. During committee consideration of the bill, Langevin also offered several amendments that were adopted. Among them were:

  • An amendment to require the Department to report on ways to safeguard the integrity of increasingly globalized supply chains supporting critical technologies.
  • An amendment co-authored by Representative O’Rourke (D-TX) that requires reporting on military family adoptions as a way to better target support services.

Despite his vote in favor of the bill, there were several provisions Langevin did not support. In particular, he led the opposition to an amendment offered by Representative Russell (R-OK) that made sweeping changes to criminal law regarding machine gun transfers that could have far-reaching ramifications for public safety. He also strenuously objected to Republicans’ refusal to ensure no DOD funds would be used to build a border wall. Langevin’s amendment expressing the sense of Congress that Department of Defense funds should be spent on addressing pressing readiness issues rather than a wall was rejected by committee Republicans.

“The NDAA is a thoroughly bipartisan piece of legislation, which is why I am galled by Republicans’ willingness to drag debates about guns and immigration into it,” said Langevin. “The wall is pure political chicanery, an ineffective proposal that will do nothing to improve our national security. The Department of Defense has no business paying for a wall, especially at the cost of needed measures to address readiness concerns that have contributed to a recent series of tragic accidents. It also baffles me how Republicans can be moving to reduce restrictions on machine gun transfers only months after we were reminded of the devastating power of automatic firearms in Las Vegas.”

The NDAA now goes to the full House for consideration, which is expected later in May.