Senate Pivots to Focus on National Defense Authorization Act

With infrastructure done and the Build Back Better Act still under consideration in the House, the Senate this week is focusing on the National Defense Authorization Act, the most important defense spending and military policy bill, which must be passed before the end of the year. The NDAA has passed in Congress every year since 1961.

The House passed its version of the bill in late September, and Senate Majority Leader Schumer has faced criticism from both parties for delaying Senate action. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said earlier this month, “I do think this an unforced error on the part of Schumer. He’s the guy in charge. He’s the guy who’s decided not to bring it up.” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) called on Schumer “to let this bipartisan process work now as it has now for over a half a century.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee “voted in bipartisan fashion, 23-3,” to advance the bill months ago, saying the NDAA “is an important step” in bolstering the U.S. position regarding China and Russia, “near-peer rivals that do not accept U.S. global leadership or the international norms that have helped keep the peace for the better part of a century.”

Schumer is finally acting — and may roll the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) into the final package. The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), and Schumer himself, would authorize $110 billion for basic and advanced technology research over a five-year period.

Earlier this year, President Biden said it “would make generational investments in research and development and advanced manufacturing to help us grow critical industries and win the jobs of the future.” Its passage would be another bipartisan win for all Americans.

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