Rounds Encourages Support of Bipartisan Defense Bill
WASHINGTON —U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor to encourage his colleagues to support the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2016.
“I’m proud of my colleagues who serve with me on the Armed Services Committee for coming together to achieve a truly bipartisan, comprehensive bill,” said Rounds on the Senate floor. “Our bill will support our troops and meet the demands of a military that needs to continue its dynamic evolution in the face of ever more sophisticated threats.
“I was pleased that a number of provisions I offered were included in the final package that we are debating today. Now that we’ve completed our work in committee and Leader McConnell has brought our bill to the full Senate for debate, we must come together to pass the NDAA as the Senate has done each year for more than five decades.”
Text as Prepared for Delivery:
I rise today to encourage my colleagues to join the bipartisan group of Armed Services Committee members who support an important measure for our troops.
Last month we overwhelmingly voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 that the Senate is considering today.
The defense of our nation is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government, and the annual passage of the NDAA is an important step in making sure our service members have what they need to succeed.
These brave men and women selflessly sacrifice everything to keep us safe from the forces of darkness who wish to do us harm.
We owe it to these men and women to wisely work together to make certain they have the necessary tools to accomplish their dangerous and demanding missions.
And that is what we did in the Armed Services Committee just a few weeks ago.
Under the leadership of Chairman McCain and Ranking Member Reed, we reported a bill out of committee that not only supports our armed forces but makes a host of needed reforms.
And we did so overwhelmingly, by a bipartisan vote of 22 to 4.
I would like to cite a number of bill provisions which make our nation stronger, and which I hope congress and the president will enact into law.
Our bill cuts nearly $10 billion in wasteful and duplicative spending, thereby freeing up additional funds to develop and procure weapon systems of the future while also giving our troops in combat the tools they need today.
The bill also makes important reforms aimed at recruiting and retaining the all-volunteer force that has so consistently defended our country for over four decades.
The Armed Services Committee produced this legislation by using the limited and admittedly less than optimal funding tools at its disposal.
For now, the hand we are dealt to fund the defense of our country is limited by the Budget Control Act, which includes arbitrary spending caps and the threat of sequestration.
So in our bill, we are funding our armed forces using funds from the “Overseas Contingency Operations” account. We are doing so at a level above that requested by the President for this account.
OCO was included in the Budget Control Act because members of the 112th Congress recognized the importance of funding our men and women on the front lines.
I believe that many members of the Senate fervently hope that in the near future we will be able to fund our government in a fiscally-sound manner without the irrational budget caps and threat of sequestration that pervades all of Congress’s budgetary deliberations.
And I am willing to work with any of my colleagues on either side of the aisle to fix the Budget Control Act.
But until that day comes we need to use what funding options we have to keep America safe. Our legislation does that.
We are following the rules that are in force today.
I’m proud of my colleagues who serve with me on the Armed Services Committee for coming together to achieve a truly bipartisan, comprehensive bill.
Our bill will support our troops and meet the demands of a military that needs to continue its dynamic evolution in the face of ever more sophisticated threats.
And I was pleased that a number of provisions I offered were included in the final package that we are debating today.
Now that we’ve completed our work in committee and Leader McConnell has brought our bill to the full Senate for debate, we must come together to pass the NDAA as the Senate has done each year for more than five decades.
It is no coincidence that the NDAA is the only legislation to achieve this track record.
Rather, it indicates the vital importance that generations of Senate members have attached to it.
The defense of our country is not a partisan issue.
Our bipartisan NDAA bill sustains what our service members need to succeed in a world that grows ever more dangerous.
From Russian aggression in Ukraine and mounting Chinese coercion in Asia to the ugly aggression of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in the Middle East, new threats continue to rise throughout the world.
These threats are multi-faceted, our enemies’ tactics ever-changing.
We must make certain our armed forces can continue to face these challenges and we must uphold our commitment to them.
I encourage my colleagues to pass the NDAA in the Senate, and I encourage our president to work with congress to keep Americans safe.