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December 8, 2020

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395) Conference Report to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2021 for the U.S. Department of Defense's (DOD) military activities, in order to ensure the security of the country and the men and women who serve to defend it. In July, H.R. 6395 passed the House (295-125) and S. 4049, the companion version passed the U.S. Senate (86-14). In November, Representative Conor Lamb (PA-17), who serves as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, was appointed to the conference committee that worked to reconcile the two bills, and reached a bipartisan, bicameral agreement. This agreement is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate and head to the President's desk later this week.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report authorizes a three percent pay increase for servicemembers while making key investments to military infrastructure and provides crucial support to training and sustainment activities that enhance military operations. The legislation also authorizes funding that will strengthen the country's ability to respond to potential COVID-19 resurgence and other infectious diseases in the future. In addition, it adds three new diseases to the presumptive list for Agent Orange exposure, calling for increased data collection of toxic exposures for veterans building on the passage of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 (H.R. 299).

"This is a good bill. Congress worked on a bipartisan basis to provide our troops with a much-needed pay raise and give Vietnam era veterans additional health care benefits," said Lamb. I look forward to this legislation getting signed into law as soon as possible to help improve the lives of our servicemembers and veterans across the country."

Lamb led three amendments and secured a key provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report, including:

  • An amendment adapted from a bill Lamb co-led with Representative Mike Bost (IL-12), The Coastal and Inland Ports and Terminals Commerce Improvements Act (H.R. 7416), which would provide assistance to inland and small coastal ports and terminals;
  • An amendment that directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish a Center for Artificial Intelligence within the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) in order to codify NOAA's artificial intelligence strategy;
  • An amendment to ensure that members of the U.S. Coast Guard can access workforce development through the DOD's Skillbridge initiative that provides access to apprenticeships and on-the-job learning for servicemembers as they transition from the military into civilian life; and
  • A provision for the inclusion of National Science Foundation (NSF) Artificial Intelligence (AI) education in the teaching and learning of topics related to AI systems in K-12 and post-secondary educational programs, including workforce training and career and technical education programs.

Additional key provisions included in H.R. 6395 include:

  • Removing all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America;
  • Setting monetary limits on the use of emergency construction funds to ensure no President can ever rob the military construction accounts for projects like the border wall for which Congress has declined to appropriate funds;
  • Extending paid parental leave to approximately 100,000 federal civilians inadvertently excluded from last year's legislation, including employees at the VA, TSA, FAA, White House, Article I judges, and the courts and the public defender's office for Washington, D.C.; and
  • Requiring each federal agency to establish a model Equal Employment Opportunity Program that is independent of the agency's Human Capital or General Counsel office and establishes requirements related to complaints of discrimination and retaliation in the workplace, under the Including the Elijah Cummings Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act.

Click here to learn more about the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.