November 17, 2017

NDAA Passes Congress, Includes Key Warren Provisions

In First Year on SASC, Warren Fights for Servicemembers and Families, to Strengthen National Security, and Increase Support for Massachusetts Military Priorities

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today applauded the final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018.

"As a new member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I'm glad that the Senate approved the annual defense authorization this week," said Senator Warren. "The final bill includes a number of provisions I fought for. It increases funding for basic and applied research that is critical to our national security; prioritizes specialized treatment in military medical facilities for civilian victims of terror who suffer traumatic injuries; requires the Pentagon to review and update its regulations on how debt collectors are permitted to contact servicemembers in an effort to deter predatory behavior; requires the GAO to study how the Department of Defense tracks and responds to workplace safety violations committed by defense contractors; and holds the Trump Administration accountable for its actions overseas by requiring detailed reports on civilian casualties caused by U.S. military operations."

"The final bill also includes many important provisions for Massachusetts, including fully funding family housing, safety upgrades, and other critical military construction at our military installations; providing increased funding and authority for the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental; and ensuring our National Guard is fully equipped to defend Massachusetts and the nation," Senator Warren said.  

"I do not support everything in this defense bill. I'm concerned about the funding level, which would provide nearly $700 billion to the Pentagon at a time when this Administration is proposing to slash funding for critical domestic priorities like education, healthcare, and infrastructure," said the senator. "I am disappointed that the final bill does not include an amendment I cosponsored with Senator Joni Ernst that would have helped ensure servicemembers receive the pay raises they are entitled to. And I am deeply worried about provisions in the bill that would authorize a research and development program for a new intermediate-range Ground Launched Cruise Missile, which would open the door to America's exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, one of the foundational nonproliferation treaties of the 20th century."

"On balance, I believe this bill will have a direct and positive impact on the lives of our men and women in uniform, and that it will do a lot of good for Massachusetts and for our nation," Senator Warren said.

The NDAA, which passed both the House and the Senate on Thursday, contains numerous provisions that Senator Warren successfully fought for to benefit Massachusetts military priorities, improve the lives of servicemembers and their families, and further U.S. national security interests.  The final bill:

  • Increases funding above the President's Budget request for critical science and technology programs with national security applications, including an additional $21 million for the Army, $52 million for the Navy, $59 million for the Air Force, and $16 million for the defense-wide accounts.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to prioritize civilian victims of terror, making it easier for individuals who suffer traumatic injuries and require specialized treatment to receive care at military medical facilities. This provision reflects the intent of the Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes Act, which was introduced by Senators Warren and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in response to the Boston Marathon bombing.
  • Holds the Trump Administration accountable for actions overseas by requiring an annual report detailing civilian casualties caused as a result of U.S. military operations. This reporting provision is also reflected in Senator Warren's Preventing Civilian Casualties in Military Operations Act, and follows a 2014 speech she delivered on the negative consequences of civilian deaths for U.S. national security. 
  • Requires DOD to include in its annual report on Russia's destabilizing influence an assessment of actions to counter the Russian government's efforts to target our military service members with disinformation and propaganda through social media. This provision reflects the intent of Senator Warren's Countering Foreign Interference with our Armed Forces Act
  • Limits inappropriate debt collector actions against servicemembers by requiring DOD to review and update its policies regarding harassment of and contact with servicemembers by debt collectors. This proposal, which is reflected in Senator Warren's Servicemember Debt Collection Reform Act, derives from a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about debt collectors taking advantage of servicemembers in a variety of ways, including contacting commanding officers inappropriately, and alleging that servicemembers owe disputed or imaginary debts.
  • Requires the GAO to conduct a study on how the Pentagon tracks and responds to workplace safety violations committed by defense contractors. This language was included after Senator Warren fought to require DOD contracting officers to consider workplace safety and health violations when evaluating prospective contracts, a proposal she first advanced in her Contractor Accountability and Workplace Safety Act
  • Fully funds family housing, safety upgrades, and other critical military construction at Massachusetts military installations including $12 million to construct a reinforced gate at Hanscom Air Force Base, $21 million to improve family housing at U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, and $10 million to build an indoor small arms range at Westover Air Reserve Base. 
  • Includes a longitudinal medical study on the impact of exposure to blast pressure, which will require DOD to review safety precautions surrounding heavy weapons training to account for emerging research on blast exposure. 
  • Updates a reporting requirement to require an assessment of the cybersecurity threats to the electric grid, including the impact on military installations. 
  • Requires that an unclassified version of the Nuclear Posture Review be made available to the public when completed, and expresses the sense of Congress that the ongoing Nuclear Posture Review should take into account U.S. treaty obligations and consider input and views from all relevant U.S. government stakeholders.