Langevin Votes in Favor of Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of its Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities, issued the following statement today after voting in favor of the conference report to accompany the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The bipartisan, bicameral agreement supports a strong national defense and realizes long-sought reforms including a 12-week paid parental leave policy for all federal employees and the expansion of several supports and protections for service members. Langevin served on the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Committee, and the conference report was approved by a 377-48 vote.

“It is encouraging that Democrats and Republicans engaged in a collaborative process and have reached bipartisan agreement for a defense bill that helps keep our nation secure, prioritizes support for our brave service members, and will bolster Rhode Island’s defense industry.

“As the chairman of the subcommittee focused on emerging threats to our country, I am proud the bill includes robust support for the Defense Department’s science and technology ecosystem. Threats in cyberspace are among the most challenging we face, and I worked to ensure the conference report preserves important provisions I authored to continue to better our cybersecurity. I have made ensuring that Special Operations Forces remain professional, ethical, agile, and postured for high-end missions a priority of the subcommittee, and that goal, too, is reflected in the final agreement.

“This legislation marks a big win for many families nationwide as we set course to provide all federal workers paid parental leave. It also takes into account the extraordinary dedication and sacrifices of our troops and their families by raising pay, repealing the burdensome military ‘widows tax,’ and incorporating provisions that will strengthen mental health services and housing.

“At the local level, the agreement will help keep Rhode Island at the forefront of our defense industrial base by continuing to support the expansion of our nation’s submarine fleet. With much of the production of Virginia-class submarines and Virginia Payload Modules happening in Rhode Island, this bill will support local businesses and create good paying jobs that will help supply our warfighters with the very best technology, so they never have to enter a fair fight.

“While I am disappointed that important House provisions regarding climate change and human-made chemicals such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were dropped from the final bill, we have taken substantive steps to promote climate resiliency and put in place important limitations on military uses of these chemicals. Congress must continue to press this issue in the coming months.

“I am incredibly thankful to my fellow conferees, and Chairman Smith in particular, for their diligence and commitment to bipartisan collaboration. It is an honor to participate in this process each year, and I am proud that Congress will fulfill its Constitutional obligation to provide for the common defense for the fifty-ninth year in a row.”