Langevin Votes to Advance 2021 Defense Policy Bill

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) voted late this evening to advance the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of the House Committee on Armed Services. The annual defense policy bill, which authorizes $732 billion in funding for the military over the next year, passed by a vote of 56-0.

“It is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity each year to set the policy that ensures our service members, and our country, are protected,” said Langevin. “This year’s NDAA is a testament to the bipartisanship that animates our committee, and I am proud that it bears the name of the esteemed ranking Republican Mac Thornberry. Through our work, we will provide a 3.0 percent pay raise for the troops that sacrifice so much to keep us safe, and we will take a strong stand against the President’s many actions to undermine our place in the world and the trust our allies place in our leadership. The FY21 NDAA will also continue support for Rhode Island’s critical defense manufacturing sector, restoring funding for the construction of two Virginia-class submarines after a cut by the Administration and fully-funding the new Columbia-class program.”

Langevin chairs the Committee’s Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities (IETC), and he offered his Subcommittee’s portion of the bill early on in the debate. Key IETC provisions include strong support for the Department of Defense research and development enterprise, including the restoration of a $600 million cut by the President and the preservation of the Minerva program, which supports social science research pertaining to national security issues. The IETC portion of the bill also shores up pandemic and bioweapon preparedness, doubling down on the work of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that has helped lead to candidate COVID-19 vaccines.

“We began this year focused on the many threats from malign actors that destabilize the international order, from interference in democratic institutions to disruptions of critical infrastructure, cyber-attacks, gray zone activities, and continued development of weapons of mass destruction. We suddenly found ourselves in a crisis the likes of which we have not seen in a century. The novel coronavirus pandemic has taken over 125,000 American lives and upended our way of life,” continued Langevin. “The IETC mark reflects our steadfast commitment to ensuring that the Department of Defense plans for, invests in, and matures crucial warfighting and deterrence capabilities to maintain our technological edge; protects and secures our supply chain, capabilities, and information; and postures the joint force effectively against current and future threats.”

On the cybersecurity front, the FY21 NDAA implements several “key recommendations” from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, on which Langevin served as one of four Congressional representatives. It will significantly enhance threat information sharing and threat hunting across Department of Defense contractor networks. Langevin also carried two key amendments that will bolster operational collaboration across the interagency and with the private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure assets. One of the amendments will create a Joint Collaborative Environment at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to allow for cooperative cyber threat analysis. The other amendment requires a review and eventual designation of an Integrated Cyber Center at CISA to lead defensive government cybersecurity operations.

“Serving on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission has been one of the highlights of my Congressional career,” said Langevin, who co-founded and co-chairs the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. “Under the leadership of our co-chairs, Senator King and Congressman Gallagher, our report puts forth a clear strategic direction for our country, that of layered cyber deterrence. This year’s NDAA will implement vital components of that strategy, empowering CISA to act as an operational hub for cybersecurity across the government and in conjunction with the private sector. I look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan way to advance additional Solarium recommendations as the NDAA moves to floor consideration.”

Other amendments led by Langevin and accepted during the markup include provisions to require testing of COVID personal protective equipment (PPE); significantly strengthen the Department of Defense’s policies around recruiting and retaining experts in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science; and continue critical non-proliferation work on the potential use of low-enriched uranium reactors in nuclear submarines.

Finally, the FY21 NDAA markup saw the continuation of Langevin’s leadership on issues of climate change as a national security threat. In the FY18 NDAA, Langevin successfully included a landmark amendment that unequivocally put Congress on the record stating that climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States. In this year’s NDAA, Langevin offered a bipartisan amendment requiring the Secretary of Defense to update the Department of Defense’s 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap; it was adopted by voice vote.

“Climate change is already affecting resiliency and readiness across the military,” concluded Langevin. “After six years, an update to the Department of Defense Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap is long overdue. I expect the Department to present a unified strategy for dealing with climate change going forward and identify specific, actionable steps to implement that strategy.”

Highlights of the FY21 NDAA.

Highlights of IETC provisions within the FY21 NDAA.