WASHINGTON- Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, today released an amendment he intends to offer during the Committee’s consideration of HR 2500, The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. Congressman Thornberry’s amendment will authorize funding for programs requested in the President’s Budget or by the Services, that are critical to national security but not included in the Chairman’s mark.
Releasing his amendment, Congressman Thornberry said, “The Armed Services Committee heard repeated testimony, from Acting Secretary Shanahan, former Secretary Mattis, General Dunford, and others, that the military’s budget must grow between three and five percent through 2025 in order to restore readiness and maintain our competitive edge against Russia and China. The Chairman’s Mark does not meet that standard. In pursuing an arbitrarily lower budget, the proposal reduces or eliminates vital programs, including emergency funding to restore installations damaged by extreme weather, military requirements identified by the Services, funding to maintain our nuclear deterrence and ensure its safety, and missile defense. My amendment will restore those funds.”
The amendment will increase NDAA funding accordingly.
A factsheet on the contents of the amendment is available here.
Major Elements of The Thornberry Amendment:
Modernizing to Deter Russia and China: The Chairman’s Mark makes a number of unwise cuts to modernization programs that will hamper America’s ability to maintain our competitive edge over Russia and China. These include reductions to the F-35 request, the Air Force NextGen Air Dominance Program, hypersonic development, LCS programs, 5G efforts, DIU activities, the Rapid Innovation Fund, aircraft carrier construction, and other programs validated by the Services that have earned bipartisan support. The Chairman’s mark also makes unsafe and unwise cuts to nuclear modernization programs, including NNSA programs, designed to keep our deterrent credible and safe. The nuclear deterrent is the cornerstone of our national security and nuclear modernization efforts have been a priority for Republican and Democrat Administrations. Read the Factsheet
Readiness Restoration: Between 2013 and 2017, military aviation accidents rose 40%, and military aviation deaths hit a six-year high in 2018. Following sustained, focused oversight from the Armed Services Committee and a significant targeted increase in resources, the Committee received testimony that the degradation in readiness has been arrested and accident rates have begun to decline. The Chairman’s Mark makes significant cuts to readiness programs- including to infrastructure and facilities funding- that Ranking Member Thornberry believes could slow recovery efforts. These include over a billion in cuts to military personnel accounts, significant cuts to training programs, and cuts to ammunition stockpiles. The Chairman’s Mark does not support DOD’s request for emergency funding to restore Tyndall AFB, Offutt AFB, Cherry Point MCAS, or Camp Lejeune MCB. Additionally, while many Members are concerned over the Administration’s diversion of construction projects to border barriers, Ranking Member Thornberry does not believe that our troops should pay the price for political discord in Washington. His amendment would backfill funds expected to be reprogrammed from important military projects. Read the Factsheet
Amending the NDAA Topline:
Traditionally, the NDAA topline is set by the House Budget Resolution or other budget agreement that Members have debated and voted on. Under those conditions, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee agree to oppose any amendment that alters the NDAA topline. This year, no regular order budget agreement exists, and House Leadership has resisted a debate on national security needs. Ranking Member Thornberry believes it is inappropriate to eliminate funding for validated military requirements that have bipartisan support simply to impose an arbitrary and insufficient topline.
Discussing his efforts to raise the NDAA topline, Ranking Member Thornberry said, “This amendment gives Members of the Armed Services Committee the chance to build on the progress we have begun. No political agenda or tactical maneuver should prevent the Committee from adding the real and urgent national security needs of the nation and the proper support for our troops.”