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House Passes Bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act

The legislation includes five amendments authored by Rep. Wexton

Washington, DC -- Today, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) voted to pass the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This legislation prioritizes the needs of those in uniform, strengthens our security, and advances America’s leadership in the world. The bill includes 12 amendments authored or cosponsored by Wexton.  

"This year’s defense authorization ensures that our armed forces are well-equipped to confront the unique national security challenges of today, from climate change to disinformation,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “With this legislation, we’re making critical changes to protect and support all those in uniform, including initiatives to increase diversity and tackle the sexual assault crisis in our military. I’m proud to have authored five amendments included in this bipartisan bill that support important resource programs for our servicemembers and veterans, combat human rights abuses against the Uyghur people, protect the integrity of our elections, and more."

The NDAA authorizes approximately $732 billion in discretionary spending for our national defense, allowing our military to maintain readiness and expand capabilities while ensuring accountability to Congress and the American people. Notably, the bill includes a 3% pay raise for military personnel and a $1 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund.

Also included are measures to fix the FY2020 NDAA provision to expand access to paid parental leave for all federal employees, require the renaming of bases bearing the names of Confederate generals and ban the display of the Confederate flag, require an update to the Department of Defense Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, and make violent extremism punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The NDAA prioritizes the safety and well-being of those in uniform, taking steps to protect survivors of sexual assault at military academies and strengthen support services and safe to report policies, continue the phase out and cleanup of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on bases, and promote diversity and inclusion, including the establishment of a special inspector general for racial and ethnic disparities in the armed forces.

Congresswoman Wexton authored five amendments to the NDAA that were included in the final version of the legislation passed by the House, which would:

Ensure goods made in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) imported into the U.S. and sold in the military commissary and exchange systems are not made with forced labor. Wexton’s amendment directs the Secretary of Defense to issue rules that require companies that import products or materials from the XUAR to audit their supply chains to ensure imports are not produced with forced labor. Wexton has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese Community Party’s brutal oppression of Uyghurs and other Muslim-minority populations, and earlier this year introduced the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act to require U.S.-traded companies to review and disclose whether their goods are sourced from internment camps or produced via forced labor and the revenue and profit attributable to those goods. The full text of Wexton’s amendment can be found here

Require a biennial report from the Director of National Intelligence on foreign influence campaigns targeting U.S. federal elections. The report would include patterns, tools, and techniques employed by foreign influence campaigns as well as the use of disinformation and bot networks on different platforms. Wexton has been a leading voice in Congress on the threat of disinformation, founding the Congressional Task Force on Digital Citizenship which hosted a briefing earlier this month on safeguarding digital democracy. The full text of Wexton’s amendment can be found here

Restore annual leave that is lost by federal employees due to their work during a pandemic. In May, Wexton introduced the Federal Frontline Worker Leave Protection Act to ensure that the essential federal employees who have been working specifically to aid the government’s response to COVID-19 do not lose their annual leave due to an inability to take time off during the crisis. Following the introduction of Wexton’s bill, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently announced their intent to issue new regulations that would allow essential federal employees during COVID-19 to hold onto their leave benefits. The full text of Wexton’s amendment can be found here

Require the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study on substance use disorders among members of the armed services and veterans during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The study would look at overdose data from opioids and other illicit substances, as well as the prevalence of alcohol use disorder among this population during the crisis. It would also provide an overview of resources disseminated to service members and veterans and an analysis of the utilization of recovery services as well as barriers to accessing needed care. The study would identify key areas where federal agencies can improve their response for future public health emergencies. Congresswoman Wexton hosted a virtual roundtable on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and the spike in overdoses in Virginia-10 and has also met with local groups supporting those facing addiction during the pandemic. The full text of Wexton’s amendment can be found here

Direct the Military-Civilian Task Force on Domestic Violence to analyze and develop recommendations to improve access to resources for survivors throughout the stages of military service. Wexton also cosponsored two amendments to: codify existing policy requiring servicemembers with felony domestic violence convictions who are prohibited from purchasing firearms to be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), sponsored by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA); and establish a confidential reporting option for sexual harassment complaints made by servicemembers, sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA). Congresswoman Wexton has a long history of advocating for survivors of  domestic violence, recently introducing the Domestic Violence Public Health Emergency Guidance Act which would require the Department of Justice to issue guidance to federal, state, local, military, and tribal law enforcement as they work to address the surge in domestic violence during COVID-19. Wexton also recently hosted a virtual roundtable to discuss domestic violence in the COVID-19 crisis with local law enforcement and service providers. The full text of Wexton’s amendment can be found here

A summary of the NDAA can be found here