Wilson Statement on NDAA Markup
Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, issued the following statement after the House Armed Services Committee completed the markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017. This legislation would fund our military and vital national security initiatives.
“The primary duty of Congress should be limited to what we cannot do for ourselves—to provide for the common defense. This year’s NDAA protects American families from new and emerging threats and fully resources our service members deployed all over the world. I am grateful to support this bipartisan legislation.
“The FY 2017 NDAA makes our military strong—capable of defending our homeland and deterring our enemies.”
Highlights from the FY 2017 NDAA
Wilson’s quotes in italics
Cybersecurity and U.S. Cyber Command
“As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, I appreciate that the 2017 NDAA prioritizes cyber initiatives. As we saw with the hack of the Office of Personnel Management records, our enemies are increasingly using cyber capabilities to threaten American families. By fully resourcing our cyber initiatives, we can ensure our military has the technical capabilities to respond and protect our citizens.”
The FY2017 NDAA elevates U.S. Cyber Command to a unified command and directs GAO to study the CYBERCOM Commander’s dual-hat responsibility as the Director of the National Security Agency. This year’s NDAA also fully funds cyber operations, and prioritizes readiness of the Cyber Mission Forces. It includes provisions to enhance Information Assurance and prevent against insider threats. The NDAA also supports funding and advanced oversight of the development of a new security clearance IT architecture to replace OPM’s networks.
Improving Benefits for our Service members
“South Carolina is home to countless military families who deserve world-class, modern, affordable, and sustainable health care. The reforms in this year’s NDAA will strengthen military health care by increasing competition among providers and providing them with increased options by expanding choices available to veterans, service members, and military families.”
The FY2017 NDAA provides a deserved pay raise for our service members, and prevents the President from cutting or lowering troop pay—as he has done the past three years. The legislation also includes meaningful reforms to health care for our troops and their families. These reforms will simplify TRICARE options, expand access to care, and improve beneficiaries experience at military treatment facilities. Additionally, the NDAA strengthens the readiness of military healthcare professionals.
“Sadly, the President’s budget request lacked key resources for troop training and necessary repairs and updates for equipment. Our troops should have the best support and equipment when they are sent on missions, but too often, our troops and military leaders are facing the harmful effects of deferred maintenance, reduced training, and delayed procurement. I am grateful that this year’s NDAA does not provide for a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round, since our military is at the smallest it has been since the 1940s, yet threats to American families are greater than ever before.
The disparity between declining resources and proliferating threats has forced military commanders to make difficult decisions for many years that have weakened the force. Equipment challenges include platforms deployed beyond their intended life, outdated technology, and equipment that is too expensive to maintain. The NDAA also directs resources to restore and maintain real property, ranging from barracks to hangars—like the much needed repairs to the Fort Jackson barracks.
Each of the investments included in the NDAA were identified as a critical requirement by the military services, none were fully funded in the President’s Budget Request. While readiness shortfalls will take many years to correct, these initiatives will begin to close the gap.
MOX / Nuclear Security
“I am grateful that the NDAA continues construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX) at the Savannah River Site. This facility is critical to our national security and environmental clean-up missions converting weapons-grade plutonium into green fuel, and is the only viable method of upholding our nonproliferation commitment with the Russian Federation.”
The NDAA funds MOX at $340 million, and includes specific language requiring the funding go towards continued construction of the facility.
“Our current president demonstrated a willful disregard of law, specifically past NDAAs, and constitutional authority when he announced his dangerous plan to close Guantanamo and transfer the terrorists to prisons on American soil, including potentially my birthplace of Charleston. I have visited Guantanamo—this is the appropriate place to house these terrorists, not in South Carolina, Colorado, Kansas, or any other prison on American soil where they would be mere miles from schools, churches, and neighborhoods.”
The NDAA restricts transferring detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the United States and building or modifying facilities in the United States for housing detainees. It also prohibits the Department of Defense from using any funds to transfer the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay back to Cuba.
Rep. Wilson also cosponsored Rep. Jackie Walorski’s amendment that would compel the next president to provide a detailed plan for the future of Guantanamo Bay and the detainees.
“It is my hope that through this amendment, Congress can finally gain a clearer vision for what the next president plans for Gitmo, and most importantly, its detainees… By outlining statutory requirements for the next administration’s plan on Guantanamo detainees, we can work together to protect American families.”