Gardner Highlights Colorado Priorities in National Defense Authorization Act
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate highlighting the Colorado priorities he fought to include in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 and how the bill will support Colorado’s military service members and families. The annual defense bill authorizes $268.5 million in military construction projects in Colorado, a three percent pay raise for troops, and the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), guided by Gardner’s Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA). The Senate recently approved this legislation in a bipartisan vote of 86-14.
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“In my home state of Colorado, our military installations, including Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy, and Buckley, Peterson, and Schriever Air Force Bases, along with Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, are on the cutting-edge of space operations, military training and readiness, and protecting our national security,” said Senator Gardner. “I'm proud to support legislation that authorizes $268 million for military construction projects in Colorado and provides a three percent pay raise for the men and women serving our nation in uniform.”
More information on the annual defense bill and the provisions Gardner helped secure is available here.
Remarks as delivered:
Congress has no greater responsibility than providing for a strong national defense and keeping Americans safe. The National Defense Authorization Act is one of most important pieces of legislation that is considered each year by the United States Senate. It authorizes the weapons systems, the programs, and resources that support the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces as well as our families.
Last week, the Senate completed its work on the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act for the 60th consecutive year. The bill received, as it should, wide bipartisan support and an 86 to 14 vote, and I was proud to support the NDAA.
In my home state of Colorado, our military installations, including Fort Carson, the Air Force Academy, and Buckley, Peterson, and Schriever Air Force Bases, along with Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, are on the cutting-edge of space operations, military training and readiness, and protecting our national security.
I want to thank Chairman Inhofe and the Ranking Member for their bipartisanship at the Senate Armed Services Committee, and for doing such a great job in fulfilling their tremendous responsibility in providing for national defense. It cannot be overstated enough how grateful we all are, and I appreciate the time and work that they dedicated to this effort. The security of the United States should always be more important than any partisan politics, and I appreciate their commitment to placing national defense above the partisan bickering.
We've seen how even in the most rancorous political times, Republicans and Democrats can come together through the Defense Authorization Act to renew the country's commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, the free and open Indo-Pacific region, like when the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act became law in December 2018.
As was stated in the U.S. Department Defense Indo-Pacific strategy report, which was released in July of last year, “This legislation (ARIA) enshrines a generational whole-of-government policy framework that demonstrates U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and includes initiatives that promote sovereignty, rule of law, democracy, economic engagement and regional security.”
Now the United States has taken the next step toward renewing the country's commitment to the Indo-Pacific region by passing this NDAA bill, enshrining and establishing a new Pacific Deterrence Initiative, PDI, that will complement ARIA and implement its vision of a more robust U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific.
This initiative will enhance the security commitments set forth in ARIA and help guide Congress and the Pentagon in making the tough choices necessary to prioritize the Indo-Pacific and to extend critical deterrence initiatives to check our adversaries.
Earlier this summer, Chairman Inhofe and I authored an op-ed entitled, “Renewing America's Commitment to the Indo-Pacific.” It describes the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which will complement the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act and implement its vision of a more robust U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific, and I ask for unanimous consent that this op-ed in The Diplomat, July 2nd, 2020, be entered into the record.
I'd also like to thank my colleagues for their bipartisan work on the defense bill. We've had a number of bipartisan amendments included and provisions that improve the use of secure facility space and make sure military communities have access to clean and safe drinking water - an incredibly important issue facing Colorado, Colorado Springs, Fountain, the Fort Carson area, and others as they address the PFAS issues this nation has dealt with.
I think it's important that we remember, when one member of the family serves our country in uniform, the entire family serves. And this legislation supports military families in Colorado, and truly all over the world. It provides a much needed pay increase for our military members and continues to support military spouses seeking employment. The NDAA addresses the challenges service members and their families face living in privatized housing and expands resources to continue to address PFAS water contamination in our military communities.
In Colorado, we are proud to play a very key role in defending the United States. Our military installations are critical to national security and supporting operations in space. This year's defense authorization includes language to ensure there's transparency when it comes to selecting the final home for the headquarters, the permanent basing decision, of U.S. space Command. And that Space Command's critical mission drives the decision making process - that's what we assured through the Defense Authorization Act.
The bill also supports the ongoing standup of our nation's newest military branch, the United States Space Force, to include my legislation establishing the Space Force Reserve. The Space Force Reserve will mirror its sister military service branches, and as a result the Space Force will better organize the military to handle space operations and bring all military members working in the space domain under the same organizational umbrella.
General Raymond is working hard to make sure the U.S. Space Force is agile and prepared to respond to national security threats in the space domain. As we continue to work in establishing the U.S. Space Force, Colorado is proud to continue its support of our nation's military operations in space.
And that's why in the coming weeks, I will be working with my colleagues in the Senate to establish the U.S. Space Force Caucus, led by bipartisan co-leads and chairs. The caucus will provide my colleagues and their staff the opportunity to learn more about the military space operations and the critical threats that we face in the space domain. And I welcome my colleagues’ support and participation on the establishment of this caucus.
And again, I'd like to thank my colleagues, Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Reed, for their work on this important bill, and I'm proud to support legislation that authorizes $268 million for military construction projects in Colorado and provides a three percent pay raise for the men and women serving our nation in uniform.
With that, Madam President, I yield the floor.
Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.
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