The biggest increase in defense funding in 15 years recently became law. We have entered a new era for our military, and now we are passing new reforms to keep building this 21st-century fighting force.
Tomorrow, the House will consider the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This bill, which passed out of committee with a 60-1 vote, authorizes $717 billion in defense spending. It gives our troops their biggest pay raise in nine years, and gives special pay and bonuses to those in high-demand fields.
This NDAA does several things to ensure our armed forces can operate safely and efficiently. It provides training funding for all branches and updates military aircraft to address the troubling rise in accidents. In an investigation earlier this year, the Military Times found “accidents involving all of the military’s manned fighter, bomber, helicopter and cargo warplanes rose nearly 40 percent from fiscal years 2013 to 2017,” killing at least 133 servicemembers.
This underscores how serious and important this legislation is. Our servicemembers make up the strongest armed forces in the world, and they deserve to be equipped with resources matching that caliber.
The bill authorizes funding to go toward updating and replacing Army equipment and strengthening the Naval fleet. It will help rebuild military infrastructure, including through $11.3 billion authorized for military construction.
Our military must be able to confront challenges emerging in key areas like the Indo-Pacific Region. This bill helps them do that, while maintaining long-term goals in the area. It supports strategic initiatives and joint exercises with our regional allies, and strengthens our ability to confront continued aggression by China.
The bill ensures we are prepared to face modern threats by supporting the development of new technologies, and by investing in our nuclear deterrent and missile defense system. And not only does this NDAA take a major step toward restoring military readiness—it also cuts down on bureaucracy that limits our military’s flexibility by reforming defense agencies.
As Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said, “Our troops are our most valuable asset, and it is important to make sure they have the tools and support they need to be successful.”