Senator Mike Lee joined two of his colleagues in voting against the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act in the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Now that the NDAA legislation has advanced from the closed-door deliberations of the Committee to the Senate floor for further consideration and debate, Senator Lee is hopeful that he and his colleagues will have the time and opportunity to work with the Department of Defense and Military and Veterans Service Organizations before these reforms are passed into law.
“I commend Chairman John McCain and Ranking Member Jack Reed for addressing difficult efficiency and spending issues at the Department of Defense in this bill, but I could not, in good conscience, vote in favor of the legislation because it includes two provisions that I believe are misguided and ill-advised,” Sen. Lee said. “First, the bill requires women between the ages of 18 and 25 to register for the Selective Service. This is a highly consequential – and, for many American families, a deeply controversial – decision that deserves to be resolved by Congress after a robust and transparent debate in front of the American people, instead of buried in an embargoed document that is passed every year to fund military pay and benefits. Second, the bill authorizes the continuation of the Syria Train and Equip program, which was suspended last year after expending hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to train only four or five fighters and finance the purchase of weapons that were ultimately seized by Al Nusra, the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate. I firmly believe that the American counter-ISIS strategy must be reconsidered from the top-down and that we should not fund failing programs.”
Although the two amendments that Senator Lee offered to strike these provisions of the Chairman’s bill were defeated, several other amendments that he offered were incorporated into the final bill passed out of the committee. Those amendments include supporting the National Guard’s retention of Apache helicopter battalions, requiring the Department of Defense to put forth plans to increase European countries’ defense contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, requiring any Department of Defense reorganization to include senior positions specifically for logistics and sustainment services, and mandating a study on the potential sale of excess ballistic missile motors for use in commercial services. The bill also contained authorities aimed at alleviating some of the high-skilled worker shortfalls at military facilities across the country, including the Ogden Air Logistics Complex in Ogden, UT.
When this bill comes to the Senate floor, Senator Lee will continue to work to ensure that our service members and their families are appropriately compensated for their patriotic sacrifices and adequately equipped with the funding and provisions they need to protect our country, and he will continue to advance reforms aimed at preventing the United States from becoming embroiled in military actions around the world that do not advance our national security interests.