Legislation Includes Fischer-Wins for STRATCOM/Offutt, 
Keeping Up with Threat of Russia/China

WASHINGTON, DC. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the top Republican on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, today voted in favor of advancing the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. This annual legislation authorizes defense spending and sets the policy and priorities for our military. The bill contains many Fischer amendments and provisions she successfully included. The bill passed committee by a bipartisan vote of 23 to 3. In total, the bill supports $857.64 billion in FY 2023 funding for national security.

“I’m proud of the strong, bipartisan product our committee approved today to provide for the common defense, take care of our military, and support the biggest pay raise for our troops in two decades. As a senior member of the committee, I secured critical provisions to ensure U.S. nuclear posture remains strong in the face of China and Russia’s nuclear breakout, despite the administration’s attempt to cut vital programs. I also protected mission capability for the 55th Wing based out of Offutt Air Force Base,” said Senator Fischer.

Below are highlights from the FY23 Senate NDAA:

Overall Bill Highlights

  • Increases defense spending above President Biden’s request to ensure our men and women in uniform have the resources they need in a time of growing threats and historic inflation. The committee approved a bipartisan amendment to increase funding by $45 billion above the president’s request.
  • Supports an increase in basic pay levels for service members by 4.6%. 
  • Senator Fischer and Chairman Reed offered an amendment to name the bill after retiring Ranking Member Jim Inhofe. This amendment passed unanimously. 

Support for Nebraska Military Equities

Senator Fischer wrote and secured many provisions in the FY 23 NDAA to support Nebraska military equities, including facilities, missions, and platforms. She also fought to enhance defense-related partnerships and programs that are important to the state.

  • Ensures the completion of disaster recovery efforts at Offutt after 2019 floods. Fully funds the U.S. Air Force’s request for $235 million in military construction funding, which is the amount still needed to rebuild all the destroyed Offutt facilities. 
  • Protects the 55th Wing’s RC-135 mission capability. The president’s FY23 budget request included a 52% cut to spare parts for the RC-135 fleet in the Air Force Budget. These aircraft perform essential intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions no other platform can perform. Senator Fischer wrote to General Mark Kelly, Commander of Air Combat Command, expressing her concerns and requesting an analysis of the cut’s impact. Following General Kelly’s response, which said the cut would result in “an overall 30% decrease in deployed RC-135 mission capability rates,” Senator Fischer worked with Chairman Reed and Ranking Member Inhofe to successfully include an additional $27.3 million for RC-135 spares in the bill. 
  • Improves plan for new testbed aircraft for 55th Wing’s RC-135 fleet. In response to Senator Fischer’s past efforts, the Air Force has decided on a plan to increase testing capability and overall fleet availability of the 55th Wing. The plan consists of replacing the legacy NC-135W testbed aircraft with an aircraft in an operationally representative configuration. The Air Force will be able to test and evaluate novel technologies faster and more accurately, significantly reducing the amount of time RC-135 aircraft spend grounded during their scheduled upgrade periods. The FY 23 Senate NDAA directs the Air Force to find ways to accelerate implementation of this plan.  
  • Authorizes an additional $39.4 million for upgrade to the 55th Wing’s RC-135 fleet’s navigation systems. 
  • Authorizes significant additional resources for Rapid Emerging Architecture Collaboration Hub (REACH) public-private partnership to accelerate the design of the next generation of nuclear command, control and communications architecture.  
  • Authorizes $15 million for the DOD’s National Disaster Medical System pilot program. Omaha was selected as one of five locations to participate in this pilot program. 
  • Highlights the important role that installations like the Lincoln Air National Guard Base at the Lincoln Airport play in supporting STRATCOM missions, including nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) missions.  
  • Supports the Nebraska Air National Guard’s 170th Group in their vital partnership with the 55th Wing.
  • Expresses the committee’s continued support for the modernization of the Offutt based E-4B airplanes with the Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) program. 

Strategic Forces Provisions

 As the top Republican on the Strategic Forces subcommittee, Senator Fischer was extremely successful in delivering wins in this legislation that strengthen America’s nuclear deterrent.Working with her colleagues, Senator Fischer overturned decisions by the Biden administration that would have weakened our nuclear deterrence at a time of increasing global instability.

  • Authorizes full funding for the continued modernization of our nuclear triad and supports Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) architecture.
  • Increases funding authorized for the laboratory and production infrastructure of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which maintains the nation’s nuclear weapons.
  • Continues funding for the Sea Launched Cruise Missile (SCLM) program, a key unfunded requirement of the STRATCOM Commander
    • While President Biden proposed cancelling SLCM, Senator Fischer achieved a bipartisan agreement to continue the program. The STRATCOM Commander, and other senior U.S. military leaders testified that continuing SLCM was necessary to ensure our continued ability to deter evolving nuclear threats, highlighted by Russia’s increasing arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons and China’s strategic nuclear breakout.
    • The legislation authorizes $20.0 million to continue the NNSA’s research and development of the W80-4 ALT-Sea-Launched Cruise Missile Warhead, and $25 million for the Navy’s development of a missile body.
  • Retains STRATCOM’s role in electromagnetic spectrum operations.
  • Prevents the Biden administration’s proposal to retire the B-83 nuclear bomb, pending a study by Department of Defense on the development of a replacement capability.
  • Authorizes provisions to streamline bureaucracy and strengthen oversight of the deployment of missile defense systems to Guam and the next generation intercontinental ballistic missile known as Sentinel.
  • Makes significant additional investments related to the Strategic Forces Subcommittee’s jurisdiction including:
    • $500 million for the NNSA’s effort to re-establish the ability to produce plutonium pits, a critical capability for the nation’s continued ability to field a nuclear deterrent.
    • $293 million to accelerate the Missile Defense Agency’s development of the Glide-Phase Interceptor to defend against growing hypersonic threats.
    • $300 million for increased Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) interceptor production.
    • $51 million to enhance efforts to defend the homeland against increasingly sophisticated cruise missile threats.

Additional Fischer Provisions

 Senator Fischer successfully included several other provisions related to her national security priorities in the FY 23 NDAA.

  • Directs the Department of Defense to report specifically on its plans to address glaring weaknesses in President Biden’s counterterrorism strategy in Afghanistan.
  • Extends prohibitions on cooperation with the Russian military and sharing of missile defense information with Russia in response to its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. An act of Congress would be required to allow cooperation and sharing with Russia in the future.
  • Prohibits the Department of Defense from participating in entertainment projects with ties to the Chinese government. This includes productions in which a producer or other members of the project seek pre-approval of their content from Chinese censors, or if the contents of a project are modified as a result of pressure from the Chinese government.
  • Restricts funding for the Office of the Secretary of Defense until the agency complies with legislative requirements to name a lead acquisition organization for defending the homeland from cruise missiles.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to produce a classified version and an unclassified version National Defense Strategy (NDS) in response to the Biden administration’s decision to not publicly release this document.