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Byrne applauds passage of the National Defense Authorization Act

Thursday, Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) applauded the passage of the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019. The NDAA sets policy and authorizes funding for the entire U.S. military. The bill passed by a strong bipartisan vote of 359 to 54.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Byrne played a leading role in the bill. Rep. Byrne was also a member of the House-Senate Conference Committee established to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA.

“Some things are more important than partisan politics, like supporting the men and women who put their lives on the line each and every day to help keep our nation safe,” Congressman Byrne said. “I was pleased to see the House pass the National Defense Authorization Act today on a strong bipartisan vote. With this bill, we are sending a message to our service members that we have their backs. I look forward to President Trump signing this bill to rebuild and reform our military into law.”

Byrne said that specific to Southwest Alabama, the bill authorizes the construction of three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), which are built by Austal USA in Mobile. The Senate version of the NDAA only authorized funding for one LCS, but Congressman Byrne worked with his colleagues to ensure three ships were included in the final bill.

“We will never get to the 355-ship Navy fleet that we need and President Trump wants without supporting the LCS program this year,” Byrne said. “I appreciate Chairman Mac Thornberry and Congressman Rob Wittman for working with me to grow our Navy and support the LCS program, including the close to 4,000 men and women who work at the Austal shipyard in Mobile.”

“House Resolution 1027 provides for consideration of the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 5515, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” Byrne said on the floor of the House. “This NDAA process has once again been a textbook example of how Congress should work. After extensive hearings in the House and the Senate, lengthy committee markups, hundreds of amendments, separate passage in both chambers, and a conference committee, we have reached the point of final passage. This has been a process that has followed regular order and allowed so many Members to have a role in the process. Here in the House, that is a testament to Chairman Mac Thornberry, Ranking Member Adam Smith, and their very capable staffs. This is the earliest the House has passed the final version of the NDAA in 41 years, which is a remarkable feat. A considerable amount of time and effort has been put into this product, and I know I join other members of the House in expressing our deep gratitude for their efforts.”

“This year’s NDAA offers the next steps in our effort to rebuild our military and reform the Pentagon,” Byrne continued. “I know many of us have been deeply troubled by the readiness crisis that struck the military over the last several years. This has resulted in training accidents and failures that took the lives of our servicemembers. To reverse that trend, this year’s NDAA allows for increased funding for training, as well as $2.8 billion for the procurement of spare airplane parts. In response to recent naval incidents in the Pacific, the NDAA directs the Navy to review their operational chain of command and current training plans for Surface Warfare Officers. The strategy of peace through strength requires us to continue to produce and procure the best tools and resources possible.”

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“In an effort to build towards President Trump’s goal of a 355 ship Navy fleet, the NDAA authorizes the construction of new ships, including a Ford-class aircraft carrier, additional Virginia-class attack submarines, and three Littoral Combat Ships,” Byrne added. “Given the range of challenges in the nuclear domain, the NDAA supports the Nuclear Posture Review’s recommendation to pursue a lower-yield ballistic missile warhead, while also making important investments in our missile defense programs. Very important, the NDAA authorizes a 2.6% pay raise for our servicemembers, which is the highest increase in nine years. This is critical to recruiting and retaining the best and the brightest.”

“Additionally, the NDAA focuses on policies specific to Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, as well as provisions related on non-state actors and terrorist organizations,” Byrne added. “I am also pleased that the conference report contains a compromised final version of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act. Congress has come together in a strong, bipartisan manner to recognize the growing threat of countries like China in weaponizing financial investment, threatening our advanced technologies and undermining our defense industrial base.”

“The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, known as CFIUS, is an interagency body led by the Treasury Department tasked with reviewing foreign investment for national security concerns.” Byrne added. “However, United States law governing CFIUS has not been modernized for over a decade and is not designed to address today’s modern, evolving threats. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act gives CFIUS much needed additional authority to address real national security threats without unduly burdening foreign investment in the American economy and slowing American economic growth in the process.”

“Just this past weekend, I was able to spend time with some of our fine servicemen and women in the Pacific, where they are taking part in RIMPAC, the world’s largest naval exercise.” Byrne said. “It is amazing to see the work these men and women, often very young, are doing on a daily basis. Whether it is landing planes on an aircraft carrier or steering a massive warship, these individuals are asked to carry out incredibly complicated and dangerous tasks, and they do it exceedingly well. It is the least we can do to show these courageous and patriotic Americans we have their back by passing this NDAA on a strong, bipartisan basis. We deal with a lot of complicated, and frankly divisive issues in this body, but today, on this issue, I hope we can show that our national security and the people who devote so much to keep us safe can rise above the divisiveness of today’s politics.”

The Whitehouse released a statement commending the House for passing the NDAA.

“President Donald J. Trump promised the American people that he would restore our national security. Today, Congress is taking action on the President’s request that it carry out his commitment to our military. The Administration commends the House of Representatives for passing the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 5515, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, and encourages its swift passage in the Senate.”

“The Conference Report supports the President’s request for a pay raise for our troops and rebuilds the military to deter adversaries and maintain the Administration’s posture of peace through strength. It also takes positive steps that are consistent with the Administration’s commitment to maintaining a strong and resilient manufacturing and defense industrial base.”

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“By supporting key components of the Administration’s National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, both of which focus on a return to principled realism in an era of great power competition, the FY 2019 NDAA enhances the President’s ability to defend the Nation. It also supports key components of the Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, South Asia Strategy, vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and ongoing operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”

“The Conference Report’s topline authorization levels for base national defense funding and Overseas Contingency Operations funding are consistent with the levels requested in the FY 2019 President’s Budget and enacted in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.”

“The FY 2019 NDAA keeps faith with Israel, fully authorizing the Administration request for co-development and co-production of missile defense systems. It supports the European Deterrence Initiative, strengthening the posture of the United States in Europe and bolstering our European allies against the threat of Russian aggression. Finally, the Administration appreciates the Conference Report’s inclusion of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA), which achieves the twin aims of protecting our national security and preserving our long-standing open investment policy. It also welcomes language recognizing the ongoing and wrongful detainment of Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.

Byrne is running for re-election but faces Robert Kennedy Jr. in the November 6 general election.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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