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Wittman statement on voting to override FY21NDAA veto

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Washington, December 28, 2020 | comments

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) issued the following statement after voting to override the presidential veto of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (FY21 NDAA), the legislation to fund our United States military and vital defense-related programs into the next year:

“Let me be very clear: the FY21 NDAA does right by our men and women in uniform and provides sound, strong defense policy for the coming year and the coming challenges. It will give our armed forces the tools and resources they need to deter our adversaries, support our allies, and project power around the globe.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia is home to one of the largest populations of military members and their families in the country and many more hardworking Americans who develop and support the platforms, systems, and programs that our warfighters use to execute their critical missions around the globe. FY21 NDAA goes a long way to support our region’s path to economic recovery.

“While I understand the concerns of President Trump, simply put, this is a defense bill and the President’s concerns are not defense-related. Lawmakers have been able to pass this bill for 59 years on a bipartisan and bicameral basis by taking painstaking measures to keep the NDAA focused on our national security and setting aside non-related policy items. There are better ways to address the issues brought up by the President that do not jeopardize our nation’s security interests or punish our military members.

“I agree that we must address President Trump’s concerns regarding Section 230. That is why I support Rep. Paul Gosar’s (AZ-04) Stop the Censorship Act. Section 230 currently provides online platforms with immunity for the removal of anything they perceive to be ‘otherwise objectionable.’ This legislation revokes immunity for the removal of competition and lawful political speech, extends free speech online, empowers users to protect themselves from objectionable material. This provision also incentivizes platforms to be more transparent and abide by their own terms of service. Most importantly, separating this bill from FY21 NDAA gives us the opportunity to pass the requisite defense legislation to ensure our men and women in uniform are given the resources they need to keep our Country safe.

“Our servicemembers and our national security professionals need this legislation and the authorizations and policies it provides. I refuse to put them at risk—this legislation is too important not to pass.”

Through his work as the Ranking Member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee and as a core conferee in the Conference Committee process for the FY21 NDAA, Congressman Wittman was able to work with his colleagues to secure the restoration of a second Virginia-class submarine and the required advanced procurement to maintain the necessary two-per-year build rate to keep pace with shipbuilding goals. These submarines are critical to both national defense strategy and the Commonwealth’s economy. 

Additionally, the FY21 NDAA saw the inclusion of Congressman Wittman’s bill, H.R. 7195, which will allow for the multi-year procurement of three smaller amphibious ships and one large deck amphibious ship that will save the taxpayers roughly a billion dollars. 

Ultimately, the shipbuilding account procures nine battle force ships including one Columbia-class fleet ballistic missile submarine; two Virginia-class submarines; two DDG 51 Arleigh Burke destroyers; one guided missile Frigate (FFG); two T-ATS towing, salvage, and rescue ships; and one expeditionary fast transport ship (EPF).

Outside the Seapower portfolio, the FY21 NDAA included another bill written by Congressman Wittman, H.R.8263, which ensures opportunities for Department of Defense participation in wildlife conservation banking programs. This measure will establish accountable objective, measurable criteria for conservation results, giving the Department of Defense additional tools to advance military readiness. This is a win for the Department of Defense, our environment, and our wildlife.

The FY21 NDAA also fully funds the critical B-21 Raider bomber program, as well as the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program and provides additional P-8 aircraft to combat the undersea threat. 

Finally, it includes the creation and authorization of the Tanker Fleet Security Program, a program that will continue to address our inability to appropriately transport fuel by creating a stipend for ten U.S.-flagged fuel transport ships to be chartered for this purpose.

The FY21 NDAA includes several other provisions Congressman Wittman is proud to support such as a 3.0% pay raise for servicemembers, funding for future warfare projects done in Virginia’s First District (such as the railgun and directed energy projects), and making sure the Armed Forces have the diagnostic equipment, testing capabilities, and the personal protective equipment necessary to protect servicemembers from the threat of infectious diseases.

Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he serves as the ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.
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