Weekly Columns

Over the last few weeks, Congress has been working on the annual legislation that helps ensure our men and women in uniform have the tools and resources they need to fulfill their crucial mission to protect and defend the United States, our allies and interests.

One of the key ways the federal government meets its constitutional duty to “provide for the common defense” is through the passage and implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

This bill sets out vital policy initiatives to provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with authorities to carry out the duties involved in maintaining national security. The Senate and the House of Representatives each recently passed versions of the legislation, marking the 60th consecutive year this has occurred. 

In a time of intense partisanship and national division, passage of the NDAA is a true testament to the significance of this responsibility. It shows the importance of coming together in support of the United States military even when the spirit of bipartisanship and compromise is elusive in many other areas. 

As we are all aware, threats against the U.S., our allies and interests persist. At a time of increasing risks and dangerous global security challenges, America must lead in creating stability through a strong and modernized military. 

That’s why it was essential to come together again and advance the NDAA to bolster our own military posture, enact policies that encourage deterrence, project leadership, and deploy innovative strategies to maximize advantages that serve our national security objectives, reassure our allies, and help defend our freedoms and ideals at home and abroad.

The Senate’s Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA does this by strengthening American deterrence through investing in greater capabilities in support of priorities listed in the National Defense Strategy, and ensuring America’s service members are ready so, when challenged, they prevail in any conflict.

Not only does the bill provide a three percent pay raise for our troops and re-emphasize a focus on training to ensure service members can conduct missions safely, it also serves the interests of our military families and supports Arkansas's national defense personnel, installations and industry.

After meeting with leaders from the 188th Air Wing at Fort Smith, it was clear to me that our service members need more support when it comes to options for child care and assistance. That’s why I submitted an amendment, adopted by the Senate, directing the DoD to research, report and provide recommendations to Congress on how to provide 24-hour child care to military families assigned to around-the-clock, rotational units here at home.

I also secured a provision to authorize a new Arkansas National Guard Readiness Training Center at Fort Chaffee to provide greater support for training exercises and help ensure Arkansas guardsmen continue to be some of the best trained in the country. 

Additionally, this NDAA supports the deployment of the Iron Dome protection system – a portion of which is produced in Camden, Arkansas – to U.S. Central Command theater.

These aspects of the Senate bill are just a few of the successful policies that made it worth supporting.

National security is the federal government’s most basic function and responsibility, which is why it was important to get this work done in a bipartisan way and with broad agreement. This Senate-passed NDAA does just that, which makes us and the rest of the world safer. 

Now it’s time for Senate and House members to craft a compromise bill and send it to the president’s desk to become law.