by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The leaders of the House Armed Services committee are pledging that a spirit of bipartisanship will guide work on the National Defense Authorization Act of fiscal year 2021, the legislation that provides overall guidance for how the $740 billion defense budget will be allocated.
Last year, partisan wrangling over the bill delayed its passage until late December, but Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat, and ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Republican, are vowing to get the bill passed for the 60th time. “This milestone has been made possible by decades of bipartisanship, regular order, and transparency,” the lawmakers said in a statement.
This year’s NDAA will be used to address the new budget needs of the Pentagon, including the military support to civilian agencies battling COVID-19, recruiting and training changes, and medical research and readiness issues associated with the impact the virus is having on military operations worldwide.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will certainly affect how the Committee marks up the FY21 NDAA and how the House considers it on the floor,” said Smith and Thornberry. “We are discussing those details and consulting with the leadership of both parties.”
The Trump administration has notified Congress that it intends to reprogram money in the current budget to pay for military construction projects whose funding was taken to fund border wall projects.
When Congress failed to replace the money with new funds in the fiscal year 2020 budget, some 128 military construction projects both at home and abroad were put in jeopardy. Now, to backfill the shortfall, the Pentagon plans to shift funds from the European Deterrence Initiative, which is intended to aid allies in deterring Russia.
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