WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, voted in favor of advancing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The bill passed out of committee by a bipartisan vote of 25-2. This annual legislation authorizes defense spending and sets the policy and priorities for our military. Overall, the bill authorizes a total of $750 billion for national defense, which is equivalent to the president’s budget request.
“The Senate Armed Services Committee continued its tradition of passing bipartisan legislation to provide for our national defense and equip our armed forces with the resources they need. During this process, I championed provisions in the bill to address the damage to Nebraska’s military facilities – Offutt Air Force Base and Camp Ashland – from recent natural disasters in order to repair these installations and restore our military readiness. Additionally, as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, my portion of the bill included provisions to ensure our nuclear deterrent remains strong and its modernization continues,” said Senator Fischer.
Below are some highlights from the FY 2020 NDAA:
Senator Fischer chairs the Strategic Forces Subcommittee. The FY 2020 NDAA includes the following accomplishments within the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction that:
- Fully funds the mission of the men and women of USSTRATCOM, beginning with the sustainment modernization of our nuclear forces, including the warheads and supporting the Department of Energy’s nuclear complex.
- Builds on last year’s support for the supplemental systems announced in the president’s Nuclear Posture Review by authorizing funds for the deployment of a low-yield ballistic missile warhead to increase deterrence against Russia.
- Complements the administration’s approach to comprehensive arms control by requiring the Department of Defense to submit a report describing threats beyond the scope of today’s arms control regime, including Russia’s deployed non-strategic weapons, weapons not covered by New START, non-deployed strategic weapons, and China’s nuclear modernization program.
- Fully authorizes critical bilateral U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense programs.
- $69.8 million for several critical weapons programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration – such as the Stockpile Responsiveness Program – in order to buy-down future risk and enhance the resilience of our nuclear complex.
- $113 million for the development of the next generation of GPS receivers to ensure the U.S. military continues to have access to resilient position, navigation, and timing capabilities.
- Prohibits any reduction in responsiveness, alert level, or quantity of our ICBM forces.
- Authorizes significant additional resources to increase the pace of programs within the subcommittee’s jurisdiction that are vital to U.S. national security, including:
- $108 million to fully fund the Missile Defense Agency’s development of space-based sensors to track advanced threats, such as hypersonic weapons.
Senator Fischer also championed several independent initiatives outside of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee that were included in the FY 2020 NDAA. Several of these initiatives are listed below.
Supporting Disaster Relief and Recovery
- Authorizes an additional $340 million in Air Force Facilities Sustainment, Restoration, and Modernization (FSRM) for disaster recovery to support installations like Offutt Air Force Base, as well as $7.2 million in Army National Guard FRSM to help with the cleanup and rebuild of Camp Ashland.
- Includes an authorization for $247 million in planning and design to assist the Air Force with the process of determining the scope and specifications of the Offutt rebuild. In total, there is $687.2 million in total FSRM authorized in disaster recovery added through the legislation.
- Includes two amendments introduced by Senator Fischer and adopted in markup that aide in Nebraska’s military disaster recovery. The first raises the cap on military construction projects that can be undertaken without the delay of direct congressional appropriation, providing significant flexibility for both the Air Force and Nebraska National Guard to speed up the rebuilding process and start construction sooner. This means smaller shovel-ready projects at bases affected by natural disasters can begin without delay. The second included language in the bill encouraging the military services to quickly work to rebuild Offutt Air Force Base and Camp Ashland, while also encouraging Congress to work together to support this effort.
Keeping the Airframes of the 55th Wing Flying
- Authorizes full funding for the Air Force Budget Request to support the RC-135. This will allow significant upgrades to the capabilities of the RC-135 RIVET JOINT.
- Includes full funding authorization for the continued execution of the Air Force plan to convert three KC-135R tankers into WC-135R CONSTANT PHOENIX aircraft, the planes used by the United States to detect signs of nuclear explosions.
- Fully authorizes funds for the OC-135 Open Skies recapitalization, which will ultimately result in the acquisition of new planes to replace the older airframes currently flying the mission at Offutt.
- Includes language introduced by Senator Fischer that encourages the Air Force to innovate in maintaining older aircraft such as the C-135 family of planes.
Planning for the Future ISR Battlespace
- Includes two amendments introduced by Senator Fischer and passed by the committee that will direct the Air Force to assess the integration of manned and unmanned assets for future intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions and direct the service to examine the integration and dissemination of data from surveillance platforms like the RC-135 to the warfighter.
Encouraging Innovative Solutions to Service-Wide Runway Disrepair
- Includes a provision championed by Senator Fischer that authorizes Service Secretaries to carry out a pilot program to design, build, and test technologies and innovative pavement materials in order to extend the service life of roads and runways on military installations.
Authorizing Funding for Infrastructure Upgrades for the Nebraska National Guard
- Authorizes $29 million to fully fund the construction of the Bellevue Readiness Center for the Nebraska National Guard, which will serve as a focal point for the Nebraska Guard’s network of readiness centers.
Taken as a whole, the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes a comprehensive set of measures designed to continue rebuilding readiness and execute the core tenets of the administration’s National Defense Strategy. This includes:
- Authorizes active-duty strength levels consistent with a strong national defense and the administration’s budget request.
- Addresses cost overruns with new reforms to enhance the speed with which new systems are developed and fielded.
- Authorizes a 3.1 percent pay raise for all members of the uniformed service, the largest in a decade.
- Reforms military housing to address the unacceptable conditions reported by service members and their families.
- Strengthens the defense industrial base and makes reforms to increase resiliency and competitiveness.