Tim Kaine statement on passage of Senate defense bill

tim kaineToday, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on Senate passage of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains several provisions he advocated for that will benefit Virginia’s shipbuilding industry and defense community:

“From funding the Ford-class carrier and Virginia class submarines, to enhancing credentialing opportunities for servicemembers, to eliminating the most harmful effects of sequestration, this is a strong bill for Virginia’s shipbuilding industry and defense communities across the Commonwealth. However, I am disappointed that a number of proposals I offered in good faith were among hundreds not considered. Nearly two years into the war against ISIL, and as the threat of this terrorist group continues to rise, it’s hard to believe that not one amendment – proposed by a Republican or a Democrat – related to the need for a new Authorization for Use of Military Force against ISIL was allowed consideration.”

 

The following list includes many of the programs and provisions Kaine supported that were included in the final bill:

  • Supports Shipbuilding:  Provides funding for research, procurement and sustainment of an 11-carrier fleet. The bill continues to fund construction of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and research and purchasing of the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80). Additionally, the bill funds the refueling and complex overhauls (RCOH) of the USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The bill also authorizes full funding for the Virginia-class and Ohio-class submarine programs, the LHA-8 amphibious assault ship and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The bill ensures the vitality of Virginia’s shipyards by supporting the President’s budget request for Navy Operations and Maintenance account.
  • Improves Credentialing Process for Servicemembers: The authorization includes a provision Kaine introduced to reduce veterans’ unemployment by ensuring that servicemembers receive high-quality accredited credentials that will prepare them for a successful transition to civilian employment.   Using previous credentialing victories as a foundation, the bill expands the scope of authorized credentials to additional skills servicemembers acquire throughout their service.
  • Bolsters DoD-Virginia Tech Industry Relationship: The bill included a Kaine provision to permanently authorize the Information Technology Exchange Program (ITEP) which exchanges best practices and IT personnel between the Department and the private sector. The provision encourages greater outreach to private sector partners in Northern Virginia and other high density technology hubs.
  • Sequestration: Kaine’s language puts the Senate on record denouncing the shortsighted, non-strategic and across-the-board sequestration cuts and their harmful impact on our national security. Kaine’s amendment states the Committee’s belief that these methods remain an unreasonable and inadequate budgeting tool to address deficits and debt and that relief from sequestration should come for both defense and non-defense programs critical to national security.
  • No BRAC Round: The bill rejects the Department of Defense proposals for a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.
  • Authorizes Military Construction (MILCON): The bill authorizes over $160 million in critical military construction projects throughout the Commonwealth.
  • Supports Medical Research programs: In a strong bi-partisan showing, the Senate voted 66-32 to remove certain prohibitions on Medical Research ensuring that critical medical research impacting servicemembers and their families continues.
  • Commissaries: The Senate voted 70-28 on a provision sponsored by Sen. Kaine to delay a pilot program on privatization until the report requested by the FY16 NDAA be completed.  This will ensure that the valuable commissary benefit is not compromised by hasty reforms.

 

The following three amendments Kaine introduced were not considered:

  • Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF): Senator Kaine offered two amendments focused on the war against ISIL.  The first measure creates a framework for the Senate to revise the AUMF passed in the wake of September 11, 2001, which has served as the legal predicate for the U.S. fight against terrorism for nearly 15 years.  The 2001 AUMF was tailored towards the fight with Al-Qaeda and no longer clearly addresses the expanded threat the U.S. faces from newly emerged terrorist actors around the globe.  The second amendment was a reintroduction of the bipartisan and bicameral ISIL-specific authorization that Kaine introduced with Senator Jeff Flake last year.  Their proposal would formally authorize U.S. military action against ISIL leading to a more comprehensive strategy by the U.S. and coalition partners, as well as solidify the nation’s mission and resolve to our enemies, our Allies and the American people.
  • Defense Reform Commission: In light of the most extensive Department of Defense reform proposals since Goldwater-Nichols in 1986, Senator Kaine again offered his amendment establishing a Commission on Defense Reform to ensure that future reforms are “measured and informed” which was one of the hundreds of amendments not considered.   He had offered a similar amendment during Committee mark-up which failed on a vote of 16-10.
  • Countering Violent Extremism (CVE):  Senator Kaine offered an amendment to provide Combatant Commanders increased flexibility in addressing violent extremism by facilitating cooperation between DoD’s counterterrorism operations and USAID’s governance, justice and youth development efforts. The amendment was drafted with input from senior military commanders who believe that violent extremist organizations are far more agile and complex than the current DoD tools being used to defeat them.

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