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H.R. 5515: John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019

Aug 1, 2018 at 1:58 p.m. ET. On the Conference Report in the Senate.

This was a vote to pass H.R. 5515 (115th) in the Senate. The federal budget process occurs in two stages: appropriations and authorizations. This is an authorization bill, which directs how federal funds should or should not be used. (It does not set overall spending limits, however, which are the subject of appropriations bills.) Authorizations are typically made for single fiscal years (October 1 through September 30 of the next year) but are often renewed in subsequent law.

H.R. 5515 authorizes and prioritizes funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) and military activities and construction, and prescribes military personnel strengths for Fiscal Year 2019. The bill complies with the bipartisan budget agreement and authorizes $639.1 billion in base funding. Further, the bill authorizes an additional $69 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund to cover contingency operations. When factoring in $8.9 billion for mandatory defense spending, a total of $717 billion is authorized to be appropriated. Significant provisions of the legislation include:

Caring for Troops and Their Families – The NDAA increases the size of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Naval and Air Reserve, and Air Guard, fully funds a 2.6% pay raise for our troops, and extends a special pay and bonuses for servicemembers in high-demand fields.

The proposal ensures no military medical treatment facility will be closed or downgraded until all facilities are transitioned to the Defense Health Agency, and directs the Department of Defense to improve the process for reporting crimes to the FBI database, require DoD schools to improve tracking of juvenile misconduct, and refine sexual assault prevention and response to better assist victims.

To honor and celebrate 100 years of patriotic sacrifice for our men and women in uniform, the legislation authorizes a parade in the nation’s capital and a national celebration.  The legislation prohibits the use of operational units or equipment in the Secretary of Defense believes such use will hamper readiness.

Restoring Readiness ­

Increased Training - The legislation increases funding for training for each Service.  This will allow the Army to conduct 20 Combat Training Center rotations, including four rotations for the Army National Guard.  The Army can also hold two Security Force Assistance Brigade culminating training events a year, and the Marine Corps is enabled to maximize the capacity of their full-spectrum collective training exercises.

Funding for flying hours has been increased by $24.2 million and funding for other training operations totals nearly $83 million above the increase already included in the President’s Budget Proposal.

The bill authorizes an additional $58.9 million to improve and modernize major combat range and test facility bases to include procurement of advanced threat radar systems.

Aviation Readiness - The legislation fully supports the President’s budget request of $2.8 billion for the procurement of spare airplane parts and authorizes an additional $100 million for spare parts for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The bill includes an increase of $65 million for the A-10 wing replacement program and directs the Air Force to consider using multi-year procurement contracts to generate better cost-savings.

Repairing Equipment - The legislation authorizes $21.8 billion for equipment maintenance and $3.7 billion for spare parts, which is an increase of $927.9 million over the FY18 Omnibus.

Readiness at Sea - To address recent fatal accidents at sea, the bill directs the Navy to provide clear chains of command for operations, for building readiness, and for shipyard maintenance. The Navy is required to establish separate career paths for Surface Warfare Officers to help produce crews that are properly trained and skilled.  The time a Navy vessel is forward deployed overseas is limited to no more than 10 years, and the redevelopment of the Former Ship Repair Facility on Guam is prohibiting to ensure the Navy retains sufficient ship repair capability in the Western Pacific.

The bill supports the accelerated construction of the fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier, construction of two additional Littoral Combat ships, and supports two additional Virginia-class attack submarines in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

Building a Modern Force - The legislation supports the President’s request to buy new equipment to replace that which is too broken or too expensive to repair, or lack modern capabilities useful against current and emerging threats. These include:

  • Authorizing $360 million, an increase of $338.1 million, for Stryker A1 combat vehicles, the most survivable and advanced version of the Stryker combat vehicle.
  • Supporting the President’s budget request to modernize Army Armored Brigade Combat Team vehicles, including 135 M1 Abrams tanks, 60 Bradley fighting vehicles, 197 Armored multi-purpose vehicles, 38 Improved Recovery Vehicles, and 3,390 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles.
  • Authorizing multiyear procurement authorities for F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft, C130 Super Hercules aircraft, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, advanced missiles and amphibious ships to generate better cost savings for the taxpayer and provide needed capability to the Navy;
  • Supporting the President’s budget request for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and authorizing 77 aircraft.
  • Authorizing an additional $85 million for additional UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters for the Army National Guard. The most modern Black Hawk version.
  • Supporting additional funding to maintain the maximum production rate of critical munitions, such as small diameter bombs, joint direct attack munitions, hellfire missiles, advanced precision kill weapon systems, long range anti-ship missiles, tomahawk missiles, advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles and torpedoes.
  • Mandating recapitalization of the Navy’s 43-year old auxiliary fleet which would help to transport Army and Marine Corps forces in times of conflict.
  • Encouraging the rapid development and fielding of interim maneuver short range air defense capabilities and indirect fire protection solutions to address current deficiencies in air and missile defense.
  • Fully supporting funding for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine and the B-21 Raider bomber programs
  • Adding $150 million to accelerate U.S. efforts to field a conventional prompt strike capability before FY22, in response to the critical advances Russia and China have made in developing their prompt strike hypersonic weapons.

Airborne Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance - The bill continues the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Recapitalization program and authorizes an additional $623 million for the program. In addition, bill authorizes $60 million to improve the capability of the Army’s Gray Eagle unmanned air system platform and an additional $105 million for EQ-4 unmanned aircraft systems.

Rebuilding Infrastructure - There is an increase in funding for facilities sustainment by $470.9 million and authorizes $11.3 billion for military construction, including family housing. An additional $340.5 million is authorized for depot maintenance.

The Department of Defense did not request a Base Realignment and Closure effort this year and the legislation does not authorize one.

Expanding Agility - The bill calls for a historic clarification of the acquisition process by restructuring the United States Code to logically assemble all acquisition-related statutes in one place for the first time since 1947.  The bill repeals dozens of obsolete provisions or law, prescriptive statutory requirements for positions and officers, and outdated reporting requirements.

Reforming Bureaucracy - The bill creates a new DOD Chief Management Officer charged with finding efficiencies and reducing by 25% the budget of certain Department-wide activities including logistics, human resources, services contracting, and real property management by 2021.

Readiness Accountability - The bill requires enhanced quarterly readiness reports that include measures of cyber and space readiness, and a new requirement for combatant commanders to report readiness to fight an integrated battle using air, ground, sea, space, and cyber forces.

Strategic Readiness

Nuclear Deterrence – The legislation makes critical investments to modernize America’s nuclear deterrent and align it with modern threats by pursuing a lower-yield ballistic missile warhead to strengthen deterrence, adding $325 million for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s nuclear weapons activities, and increasing funding to accelerate the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent and the Long-Range Standoff cruise missile.

Missile Defense – To further the utility and practicality of missile defense, the bill:

  • Supports the President’s request for missile defense and adds $140 million to the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) for development of critical directed energy, and Space sensing projects, and the acceleration of hypersonic defense capabilities.
  • Adds $175 million to accelerate integration of Patriot (for lower altitudes) and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (higher altitudes) missiles to meet the requirements of the Commander of U.S. Forces in Korea.
  • Requires the director of MDA establish a boost phase intercept program using kinetic interceptors, initiate development of a missile defense tracking and discrimination Space sensor layer, and continue efforts to develop high power directed energy for missile defense applications.
  • Requires the Director of MDA to continue development for the homeland defense radar in Hawaii, and that it be operationally capable by FY23.
  • Provides increased funding to address cyber threats to our missile defense systems.
  • Supports the President’s request of $500 million for co-development of missile defense systems with Israel, and co-production of Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow weapons systems.

Space Warfighting – The legislation directs the Department of Defense to develop a plan to establish a separate alternative acquisition process for space acquisitions and directs the Secretary of the Air Force to develop and implement a plan to increase the size and quality of the space cadre within the Air Force. The bill establishes a sub-unified command for space under the Strategic Command for carrying out joint space warfighting and directs the Secretary to develop a plan that identifies joint mission-essential tasks for space as a warfighting domain.

Facing New Threats

Emerging Technologies – To address advancements in Artificial Intelligence, space and counter-space capabilities, cyber, influence operations, and hypersonics the bill places emphasis on programs to advance capabilities in these areas. The legislation fully supports the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Defense Innovation Unit Experimental to ensure technological superiority and provides additional funding to accelerate Artificial Intelligence, machine learning programs, and hypersonics programs.

Russia – The legislation takes the following steps to combat Russian aggression towards the United States and its allies:

  • Withholding funding for Open Skies Treaty aircraft and sensors until Russia again complies with the Treaty and takes other steps, including agreeing to extradite Russian nationals who have been indicted for their actions against the United States during the 2016 election.)
  • Funding research and development to counter weapons being deployed by Russia that are in contravention of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty.
  • Levying new sanctions on Russia’s arms industry in response to that country’s treaty violations.
  • Prohibiting military-to-military cooperation with Russia.
  • Prohibiting the U.S. government’s recognition of the absorption of Crimea into the Russian Federation.
  • Funding the President’s request for Ukraine, including $250 million for lethal defensive items.
  • Funding the President’s request for $6.3 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) to further increase number of U.S. troops in Europe, reassure U.S. partners and allies, and deter Russian aggression.
  • Moves the EDI-related request for wartime materiel, known as the “Army Prepositioned Stock Unit Set” to the base budget, to encourage future such requests be to be included in the base budget.
  • Instructing the President to designate an official on the staff of the National Security Council to coordinate a whole-of-government response to malign foreign influence campaigns against the United States.
  • Bolstering international partnerships and providing additional funding for cyber warfare and influence operations to counter Russian aggression, cyber, and information warfare threats.

China – As China makes investments and advances in its military capabilities, this legislation directs a whole-of-government strategy to confront the People’s Republic of China and bolsters DOD’s efforts to plan for and provide the necessary forces and military infrastructure and logistics capabilities in the region. The bill supports military exercises with Japan, Australia, and India and improves security cooperation to counter China’s rising influence in Asia, Southeast Asia, and other regions.

Support for improving Taiwan’s defense capabilities are included in the bill, including joint training, military sales, and the use of security cooperation authorities, and the legislation prohibits any U.S. government agency from using risky technology.

North Korea - As North Korea continues its dangerous and destabilizing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, the bill ensures U.S. forces are ready for potential conflict on the Korean Peninsula. The legislation expresses support for regional missile defense exercises and supports the President’s budget request for the Army’s precision strike missile program.

Counterterrorism – The bill authorizes the Counter ISIS Train and Equip Fund to aid partners and allies fighting ISIS and extends the Syria Train and Equip Authority through 2019.  The bill authorizes continued security cooperation with the Government of Iraq and supports the Afghan military in its fight against the Taliban. U.S. Special Operations Command programs and activities are authorized including ongoing efforts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Eastern Europe.

Iran – The legislation establishes a Defense Partnership to Counter Iran, extends authority for the Counter ISIS fund and expresses Congress’ support for the Gulf Cooperation Council unity.  

Guantanamo Bay (GTMO)

The bill carries annual restrictions against 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. H.R. 5515 also prohibits DoD from using any funds to transfer the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay back to Cuba.

Source: Republican Policy Committee


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Conference Report Agreed to. Simple Majority Required. Source:

The Yea votes represented 81% of the country’s population by apportioning each state’s population to its voting senators.

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