House and Senate Committees Agree on FY2021 NDAA

House and Senate Committees Agree on FY2021 NDAA

While it seemed like a long shot, at best, just days ago, the House and Senate defense authorization committees finalized the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today, defying two veto threats from President Trump.  Determined to make it 60 years in a row that an NDAA has been enacted, the two parties and the two chambers reached a deal this afternoon.

Committee staffers told reporters today that the bill, H.R. 6395, has grown to 4500 printed pages, a thousand pages more than last year because it is one of the very few pieces of legislation moving through Congress so an estimated 30 percent of the bill deals with issues outside the committees’ jurisdiction.

The bill authorizes $732 billion in discretionary spending for defense for FY2021, including $69 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations.

Space issues are just a small part of that whole.  The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) issued a summary of the bill that included these bullet points.

The House Armed Services Committee’s summary was much more succinct on space issues.

One provision that did not make it into the final bill deals with the rank and grade structure of the U.S. Space Force.  The House adopted an amendment sponsored by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) directing the Space Force to use Navy ranks — Captains and Admirals rather than Colonels and Generals, for example.  It appealed to many accustomed to science fiction portrayals like Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko, and Janeway in the Star Trek series.  Apparently it did not appeal to the Senate, however, and was dropped.

The House is expected to take up the bill next week. It is named in honor of HASC Ranking Member (and former Chairman) Mac Thornberry (R-TX) who is retiring at the end of this Congress.

The House and Senate passed their respective bills by wide, bipartisan margins and the House adopted a unanimous consent agreement today to take up the final bill without going through the House Rules Committee.

The major sticking point in agreeing to a final bill for the past several months has been language in both the House and Senate versions that requires DOD to rename military installations that honor Confederate soldiers. President Trump vowed to veto the bill if any such language was included, but the Senate version remains. It gives DOD three years to implement the binding recommendations of a commission that will be established to look into the matter. The House bill required the renaming to be done in one year.

In recent days, Trump has added that he will veto the bill if Congress does not include repeal of “Section 230” of a completely unrelated law, the Communications Decency Act, that provides immunity from liability to Internet companies for content posted by users.  The bill does not address that issue.

Committee staff said today Congress will take everything one step at a time, getting it passed by the House and Senate and then, hopefully signed by the President.  If he vetoes the bill instead, they will deal with that in due course.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.