WASHINGTON - Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), Ranking Member of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, released this statement after voting “no,” for the first time ever, on House passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20):
“For decades, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has been a bipartisan process, but that long history of reaching across the aisle came to an end today. Since I arrived in Congress 11 years ago, I have supported every NDAA, regardless of the party in leadership. However, what is normally an opportunity to work together – House democrats used as an opportunity to put politics over policy.
“In an effort to appease the most extreme of their party, House Democrats morphed a bill that is supposed to be about our military into a bill riddled with partisan riders. Of the 438 amendments made in order by the House Rules Committee, only 98 were Republican; of the 66 amendments debated only three were Republican. Last year, when Republicans had the majority, we made 43% of Democrat amendments in order compared to only 35% of Republican amendments – that is legitimate bipartisanship.
“Under President Obama, the defense budget was slashed by 20%, leading to a major readiness crisis. Under President Trump, we have reinstated 10% of the funds and have made great strides in rebuilding our armed forces. This legislation does not provide the funding the Department needs and these cuts directly impact readiness recovery, military personnel, and America’s ability to deter Russia, China, Iran and other bad actors. Beyond that, the bill imposes limitations on low-yield nuclear weapons, restrictions on the President’s request to secure the border, and an entirely avoidable failure to adequately restrict the 9/11 detainees.
“While I could not support final passage, there were several provisions, specifically from the Seapower and Projection Forces portfolio, that I championed, and I am glad to see them pass the House. H.R. 2500 authorizes the procurement of 11 ships, including three Virginia-class submarines, provides congressional support for a midlife refueling of the USS John C. Stennis and USS Harry Truman, robustly supports the merchant marine with the reauthorization of the Maritime Security Program, and provides for a new Tanker Security Program that our services need.
"The Constitution gives Congress the mandate to provide for the common defense. Above all else, we must provide adequate funding and leadership that supports stability and a sustained level of readiness and resources to build and maintain the capability to win overwhelmingly in any future fight. I am optimistic the necessary changes will be made when this bill goes to conference, but it will require a course correction from our current path. I will continue to fight for the funding the DoD requested and the tools our warfighters need. We owe them nothing but the best.”