HOUSTON, Texas – This week, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) completed the markup process for the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, including over 30 provisions led by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“There is no better way to lead our country during tumultuous times than peace through strength, and ensuring our military is properly equipped and funded is a crucial element of that,” Sen. Cruz said. “This year, we continued building on the investments made in our military under unified Republican leadership. This NDAA includes another significant increase to our troops’ take-home pay to properly compensate the brave men and women who serve in our military. This legislation also makes investments and establishes policies that deter aggression and defeat global threats. I am proud of what we accomplished in the Armed Services Committee to support our men and women in uniform and I look forward to swift passage by the Senate.”
Sen. Cruz sponsored and cosponsored multiple provisions bolstering Texas military installations and the servicemen and women stationed there. The bill was reported favorably out of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 and will now proceed to the full Senate for consideration.
During Committee consideration, Sen. Cruz championed the following provisions directly affecting the State of Texas and solidifying the role that Texas plays in enhancing American national security:
- Military Construction Projects: $158 million is provided for Military Construction projects for Texas, which will fund priorities across the state including a much-needed new Basic Military Training (BMT) dormitory at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland and a new warehouse at Red River Army Depot.
- Military Aviation Clearinghouse: Sen. Cruz secured a provision for the Military Mission Sustainment Siting Clearinghouse to prioritize pilot safety when evaluating energy projects near military installations and training areas. The provision also includes increased funding to manage the immense workload of the clearinghouse. This provision builds on Sen. Cruz’s leadership on the issue in previous NDAAs and comes in response to concerns he heard from Texans about the importance of this effort.
- Active Protection System (APS) for Abrams, Bradley, and Stryker: Sen. Cruz advanced a recommendation to support the President’s Budget Request for Active Protection Systems (APS) for the M1 Abrams tank, Bradley, and Stryker fighting vehicles. This provision includes upgrading the Army’s M1 Abrams tank with Israel’s Trophy Active Protection System (APS), which has already been proven in protecting Israel’s Merkava tanks.
- National Guard Promotions: Sen. Cruz joined with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to improve the National Guard officer promotion system by allowing a Guard officer’s date of rank to be corrected back to the date at which the promotion was published by the state. This provision allows Guard officers across Texas and around the country to claim their deserved time in grade at the higher rank, improving future promotion opportunities, and making them eligible for back-pay.
- Defense Community Support: Sen. Cruz joined with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) to enable the Secretary of Defense to establish a grant program for investing in infrastructure around military communities. This effort directly supports Texas’ Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant (DEAAG) Program, which is an infrastructure grant program designed to assist defense communities.
- Support the Development of Countermeasures for 4th Generation Fighter Aircraft: Sen. Cruz advanced a provision which supports investments for sustaining the critical countermeasures and survivability equipment on our legacy fighter aircraft. This provision will help 4th generation fighters such as the F-16’s flown by the 301st Fighter Wing at Joint Base Fort Worth or the 149th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard.
- Report on the Development of Resilient Energy Technology: Sen. Cruz’s provision directs the Secretary of Defense to report on steps the Department is taking to integrate technologies that improve operational flexibility, enhance logistics, and reduce supply lines for forces operating in deployed environments, to include the ability to convert natural gas to tactical fuels, improve power generation, distribution, and storage in deployed environments, and increase the range and capability of tactical vehicles.
- Directing the Army to Develop Service Life Extension Program for the Rough Terrain Container Handler (RTCH) and Heavy Mobility Equipment: Sen. Cruz secured a provision that directs the Secretary of the Army to develop plans to sustain the RTCH fleet, preserve the RTCH industrial base, both within and outside the Army, improve readiness, and guarantee RTCH availability for operations into the 2030s. This provision will support both the work occurring at Red River and Texas companies.
- National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Infrastructure Roadmap: Sen. Cruz secured a provision that directs the NNSA to submit a detailed roadmap described in the Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review. This roadmap will outline the NNSA’s plan to sustain and modernize our critical infrastructure at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas and other national laboratories.
- Fort Bliss Blood Processing Center: Sen. Cruz secured $8.5 million for a project in Fort Bliss to support the Armed Services Blood Program, which provides blood components to military medical treatment facilities in the continental United States and worldwide. This facility will also provide increased operational support to units who use Fort Bliss as a Power Projection Platform during mobilization.
- Future Vertical Lift Budget Restoration: Sen. Cruz joined with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to restore funding the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program. This program is essential to the future of Army Aviation and is supported by many Texans who are hard at work in developing this next generation of aviation technology.
- Cyber Institutes: Sen. Cruz joined with Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) to direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a Cyber Institute at Senior Military Colleges such as Texas A&M.
Sen. Cruz led the following additional priorities enhancing the United States’ national security:
- China: Sen. Cruz advanced a number of priorities to strengthen our posture toward China. Sen. Cruz secured a provision requiring the Department of Defense to publish photos of China’s offensive military forces deployed on their fake islands, to ensure Americans have the resources to understand the dangerous role being played by the Communist government. Sen. Cruz also advanced a provision to protect the Department of Defense from China’s lobbying efforts. Additionally, he secured a prohibition on the Department of Defense from funding Confucius Institutes used by the Chinese Communist Party to infiltrate American universities for influence and espionage operations. Sen. Cruz also secured a provision to bar China from participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises until they cease a range of activities threatening American security. This provision reverses a policy set by President Obama.
- Iran: A provision led by Sen. Cruz expands the Annual Report on the Military Power of Iran to address emerging threats emanating from Iran in both Syria and Yemen, in cooperation with state and proxy forces. This will include an assessment of Iran’s 1) military-to-military cooperation with Russia; 2) trafficking of nuclear, biological, chemical, and advanced conventional weapons; and 3) unconventional support and training to the Houthis. This report expansion will provide a greater understanding of these destabilizing relationships that threaten our allies in the region, and how to combat them.
- Israel: Sen. Cruz led a bipartisan effort with Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to extend and increase the War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel (WRSA-I), require U.S.-Israel joint assessment on precision guided munitions (PGMs), modifies rapid acquisition and deployment procedures to support joint anti-tunneling cooperation. Sen. Cruz also joined with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to increase the minimum amount of obligations for precision guided munitions from the Special Defense Acquisition Fund.
- Russia and Latin America: Sen. Cruz led a bipartisan effort with Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) to require the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to report on Russia’s interference in the Western hemisphere and its security cooperation with Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Russia’s expanding presence in Latin America, notably with anti-American regimes, poses a significant threat to U.S. national security and regional stability. The DIA report will provide a description of Russia’s military and intelligence activities within Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Additionally, the DIA will assess the security advisory role between these Latin American countries.
- Lebanon: Sen. Cruz led an effort to secure a report for enhanced congressional oversight over the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Internal Security Forces (ISF) including an evaluation of implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which required the Lebanese government to disarm Hezbollah.
- Taiwan: Sen. Cruz secured a provision to advance our relationship with Taiwan by bolstering Taiwan’s submarine warfare capability and supporting hospital ship exchanges for humanitarian relief exercises.
- International Space Station: Sen. Cruz’s provision directs the Department of Defense and NASA to complete a review of each program, activity, and future technology that is being carried out on the International Space Station (ISS) that has potential implications for our national security, and which therefore may be terminated if the ISS is closed, and provide a report to the Congress.
- North Korea: Sen. Cruz secured a provision directing the Department of Defense to use its infrastructure to broadcast factual news into North Korea, to ensure North Koreans understand the nature of the regime that oppresses them.
- Space-Based Interceptors: Sen. Cruz’s provision directs the Department of Defense to develop a space-based intercept layer, which can take out missiles when they are most vulnerable, during the boost phase. This provision removes the legal hurdle to developing and eventually deploying this protection.
- Missile Defense Systems to Protect Bases: Sen. Cruz secured a provision that provided funding for the rapid procurement of an interim cruise missile defense capability. It requires a briefing identifying what capabilities have been deployed and are in development that could be considered for use to address the Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System (C-UAS) and Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) mission areas.
- Security Clearance: Sen. Cruz’s provision requires the department to report when security clearances are taken away outside of the normal window for periodic investigations, to boost trust and transparency in our security clearance process.
- Chief of Chaplains: Sen. Cruz secured a provision to protect the Chief of Chaplains serving in each branch of the military from being diminished and to underscore their important role of caring for those in need. He also worked with Senator Inhofe (R-Okla.) to ensure that all those in uniform have access to the spiritual and mental health care that they deserve.
- Terrorist Use of Human Shields: Sen. Cruz led a bipartisan effort with Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) to gain transparency into the use of human shields by terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The provision requires a specific plan and actions to address these tactics.