CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 2810, NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2018; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 186
(House of Representatives - November 14, 2017)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Pages H9200-H9209]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 2810, NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR 
                            FISCAL YEAR 2018

  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 616, I call 
up the conference report on the bill (H.R. 2810) to authorize 
appropriations for fiscal year 2018 for military activities of the 
Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense 
activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel 
strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes, and ask for its 
immediate consideration.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 616, the 
conference report is considered read.
  (For conference report and statement, see proceedings of the House in 
Book II of November 9, 2017, at page H8701.)
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Thornberry) 
and the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Smith) each will control 30 
minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas.


                             General Leave

  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and 
insert extraneous material on the conference report to accompany H.R. 
2810.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Texas?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 3 minutes.
  Mr. Speaker, for 55 straight years under both parties, Congress has 
come together to pass a defense authorization bill to support our 
troops and our country's security. Along with my partner on the Armed 
Services Committee, Mr. Smith, I am pleased to bring a conference 
report that will do so again.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge and thank all the Members on both 
sides of the aisle who contributed to this product, and especially the 
members and staff of the House Armed Services Committee.
  I also want to thank the conferees from the 14 other committees of 
the House who were appointed to the conference, and I appreciate their 
contributions.
  Finally, I want to express my appreciation for the opportunity to 
work with Mr. Smith and with our colleagues in the Senate, Senator 
McCain and Senator Reed.
  We do not always agree among the four of us; in fact, we disagree 
sometimes energetically, but I have no doubt that each of them is 
committed to doing the right thing for our troops and the right thing 
for our country. Each of them is a patriot whom I admire.
  Mr. Speaker, I know that I speak for all Members when we wish Senator 
McCain the best in dealing with his current health challenges.
  Members and the public were given a summary of this conference report 
last week, so I will simply say that I believe the priorities in this 
bill are, number one, our people; number two, the readiness; number 
three, missile defense; and number four, reform to see that we are more 
capable of meeting the security challenges our country faces in the 
future and today.
  In that regard, I especially want to commend the work of Mr. Rogers 
and Mr. Cooper and the Strategic Forces Subcommittee on space. They 
initiated deep, far-reaching reforms based on a real sense of urgency, 
and they are in this bill. Their work exemplifies the work of our 
committee: bipartisan, really nonpartisan, on the national security 
challenges the U.S. faces today.
  Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, as the world grew more dangerous, we cut 
our defense budget and we added to the burden borne by the men and 
women who serve us.
  We will not rebuild and fix our problems in 1 year or one bill, even 
when it is matched by an appropriations bill, which this will need to 
be, but we can head in the right direction. That is what this 
conference report does, and I hope Members will support it.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 5 minutes.

[[Page H9201]]

  Mr. Speaker, first and most importantly, I want to concur with the 
remarks of Mr. Thornberry. We have had a great many people work 
together to produce a very important product. The staff, the Members, 
House and Senate, have all done an outstanding job.
  On the Armed Services Committee, we are very proud of the fact that 
we produce a legislative product every year. We actually do legislation 
the way it is supposed to be done. We work it through committee. 
Chairman Thornberry often outlines the number of different provisions 
that were asked for at the committee level, at the full House level and 
the Senate level, and we worked through those, reached compromise where 
we could, and produced a product that is truly a legislative product.

                              {time}  1400

  That is testimony to the great work, first and foremost, of our 
staff. Both the House and Senate do an outstanding job with hundreds of 
complex issues and working with all the Members, and I thank them very 
much.
  It is also a testimony to the Members, both House and Senate, to 
their commitment to make sure that we pass the National Defense 
Authorization Act, understanding how important it is to support our 
troops and meeting our national security needs.
  I also want to thank our colleagues in the Senate. Mr. Thornberry and 
I oftentimes say those are some of our most contentious debates--not 
between us, but between us and the Senate. But they are handled, I 
think, with great dignity and intelligence, and I enjoy working with 
Senator McCain and Senator Reed. They are great partners in this final 
product.
  I am proud of this final product. There is a lot of very good policy 
in here. Mr. Thornberry mentioned several of the keys: acquisition 
reform, basically getting more out of the money we spend, making sure 
the system works better.
  I particularly want to thank Chairman Thornberry. He has taken a lead 
on this issue for a number of years. I think we have made significant 
improvements, even while acknowledging that we still have a long way to 
go to get the efficiency that we need out of the Pentagon budget, but 
that is an important change.
  I also think that this bill does a great job of supporting our troops 
and their families. As the chairman mentioned yesterday, it is 
basically the case that you recruit a servicemember but you retain the 
family, and that means that you have to provide for them. We fully fund 
the 2.4 percent pay raise in this bill and support our troops and their 
families in many other ways. This is a very good product.
  I will also say, I want to particularly thank Representative Langevin 
for working on this issue. This bill states that climate change is a 
national security threat. We make that the policy of the United States 
Congress, to acknowledge climate change and the impact that it is going 
to have on our national security, and Representative Langevin was 
tireless in making sure that that was part of this bill.
  So this is a good product. I am proud of it. I am proud of the work 
that we have done together to produce a legislative product that, as 
Mr. Thornberry says, none of us like everything that is in it, but we 
reached a compromise to produce a product on an important issue.
  The challenge that we have going forward is what the chairman 
mentioned at the end there: This bill funds, I think it is right around 
$696 billion in defense spending. It goes $80 billion, roughly, over 
the budget caps, and the bill can't do that on its own. Unless the 
budget caps are lifted and appropriators pass the appropriations bill, 
that doesn't happen; and we haven't made a lot of progress on that.
  I was thinking, today, back to 2011, in August, when we first passed 
the Budget Control Act. We were about 2 days short of not being able to 
meet our debt ceiling obligations when we passed that; and at that 
time, the hope was that we would come together on a compromise to deal 
with our deficit and our debt to get us on a fiscally responsible path.
  Well, over 6 years later, I can't say that we have made an enormous 
amount of progress on that, and that is a huge threat to our troops and 
our national security. I would also say that it is a threat to the 
nondefense discretionary budget and the rest of the budget as well.
  But without question, one of the greatest challenges the Pentagon 
faces--they don't know from one month to the next how much money they 
are going to have. Is this going to be the number? Is this bill going 
to work?
  I hope so, but we don't know. We have got to resolve that issue. We 
have got to figure out how to have a fiscally responsible budget so we 
can pass appropriations bills every year so all aspects of the 
discretionary budget can have some predictability.
  It is absolutely true, as the chairman and others have said, we have 
a readiness shortfall. What that means is we are not providing the 
equipment and the training to our troops necessary to fully prepare 
them to do the missions we are asking them to do. I have no doubt that 
part of that is underfunding.
  But another part of it is we have a National Security Strategy that 
is unclear and, as it is presented, is far greater than we would ever 
have the resources to match. I had a meeting with a Pentagon official 
who told me that they were very concerned because they were way short 
of having the funds necessary to meet their 2012 National Security 
Strategy.
  And make no mistake about it. As big and confusing as the Pentagon 
may look, they have a reason for everything that they spend. They have 
a plan in place. Right now, we don't have the funds to match those 
plans.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Rogers of Kentucky). The time of the 
gentleman has expired.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself an additional 1 
minute.
  That is a huge problem. So going forward, while we do need to provide 
more resources and more stability, I also think we need to take a look 
at that National Security Strategy and say: Where are we spending money 
that we shouldn't be? What part of our strategy do we not need?
  If we can't do that, if we can't cut back, we are never going to be 
in a position to provide adequate funds to our troops, and, to me, that 
is the absolute worst result.
  Whatever the strategy is, the one thing that it absolutely ought to 
do is fund our troops sufficiently to meet it. To have a big idea of 
what we ought to be able to do and then to underfund the men and women 
whom we are asking to do it, I believe, has led to some of the 
accidents and deaths that we have had recently with our ships and with 
our planes.
  We need to adequately fund readiness to meet a mission that is 
achievable. That, we still need to get to; but, overall, this is a good 
policy bill.
  Again, I thank the chairman. I appreciate the partnership and really 
enjoyed working with him to produce this product.

  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
South Carolina (Mr. Wilson), chairman of the Subcommittee on Readiness.
  Mr. WILSON of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Mac 
Thornberry for his leadership.
  The extraordinary, controversial issue that should be addressed of 
the widows' tax has been solved with his leadership and will be so 
meaningful to military families.
  I am grateful to support H.R. 2810, the National Defense 
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.
  Throughout this past year, as chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee, 
we heard testimony from each of the Joint Chiefs about the critical 
necessity to address the military's alarming readiness shortfalls 
across all domains: air, land, sea, cyber, and space.
  Sadly, the recent, tragic deaths of 17 sailors in two avoidable 
collisions in the Indo-Pacific region provided unmistakable evidence 
that readiness has fallen to a dangerous level. We can no longer delay 
the maintenance and sustainment problems that plague the military, and 
we can no longer defer critical training and modernization that 
directly impact the ability to respond rapidly to emerging threats 
worldwide. There are numerous important readiness provisions in the 
bill.

[[Page H9202]]

  I also appreciate the gentlewoman from Guam (Ms. Bordallo), my 
friend, colleague, and Readiness Subcommittee ranking member, for her 
tireless efforts and participation in this process. The creation of the 
NDAA was truly bipartisan and represents real emphasis for readiness 
recovery efforts and the enhanced defense of our Nation to promote 
peace through strength, protecting American families, as we recognize 
freedom is not free.
  I strongly support the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2018 and encourage my 
colleagues in the House to support it as well.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from Guam (Ms. Bordallo), the ranking member of the 
Subcommittee on Readiness.
  Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the conference report 
to accompany the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 
2018.
  I commend Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member Smith, and I would also 
like to thank the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Wilson), the 
Readiness Subcommittee chairman, and the committee staff who worked 
many, many long nights on this bill. I am especially thankful for the 
spirit of cooperation that enables us to pass an act that directly 
impacts the young men and women who defend our country.
  The conference report authorizes $3.6 billion in additional 
operations and maintenance funds to increase training, spare parts, 
facility and equipment maintenance, and other readiness enablers. This 
is a very important step to support the recovery of readiness in areas 
that have been adversely impacted by high operational tempos and made 
worse by numerous continuing resolutions and the effects of 
sequestration. However, Congress must go further and provide the 
Department with budget stability by repealing sequestration so that we 
can continue to support the training, the maintenance, and the 
modernization needs of our forces.
  The conference agreement also includes a number of provisions to 
support military readiness, such as providing authorities and 
flexibility for investments in infrastructure, extending direct hiring 
authorities, protecting training ranges from encroachment, and 
continuing to support the Asia-Pacific Rebalance.
  The Rebalance is critical to security and stability in the Indo-Asia-
Pacific region and a matter of most importance to me because of the 
recent threats against the United States and, specifically, my home 
district of Guam.
  Critically, for my constituents, this agreement provides authority 
for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to approve H-2B visas for 
Guam that support construction projects directly connected to, as well 
as those associated with, the realignment of military forces to Guam. 
Additionally, the agreement authorizes $354.6 million for military 
construction projects in Guam.
  As Guam's representative, I will continue to work with the DOD and 
the USCIS to provide relief for healthcare and other industries that 
support our military on Guam. While I support the progress that we made 
in this bill, without further relief, our inadequate workforce will 
negatively impact our national security.
  So again, Mr. Speaker, I reiterate my appreciation for the work by 
our committees and our exceptional staff. The FY18 NDAA provides the 
resources that our military requires for its missions in this very, 
very dangerous world, so I urge support for the bill.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Ohio (Mr. Turner), the chair of the Tactical Air and Land Forces 
Subcommittee.
  Mr. TURNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 2810, the National 
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.
  I strongly support this bill, and I want to personally thank our 
chairman, Mac Thornberry, for his work in trying to get a higher top 
line for defense. This bill comes in higher than the President's budget 
request, but it is in line with both the appropriations and the budget 
document that came out of the House.
  This bill authorizes $634.2 billion in the base budget, a much-needed 
increase over the original budget request, and fully supports many of 
the unfunded requirements identified by the Department that totaled 
more than $30 billion. The $634.2 billion authorization is essential. 
Anything less dramatically handicaps our ability to restore military 
readiness over nearly a decade of neglect.
  This increased base budget funding for fiscal year 2018 begins the 
long process to rebuild our military's full spectrum readiness from 
years of deferred modernization brought on by the failed assumptions 
from the previous administrations's Budget Control Act and 
sequestration.
  Within the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee's jurisdiction, 
this bill authorizes over $12 billion in additional funds to address 
unfunded modernization requirements and critical capabilities gaps.
  If we do not begin, with this budget, to set favorable conditions to 
start to reverse the high-risk defense posture we currently have, we 
will significantly jeopardize our military's advantage that we have 
taken for granted in past conflicts and steady-state operations.
  As such, the bill recognizes the importance of land forces in current 
and future operations and authorizes over $2 billion to accelerate 
armored brigade combat team modernization, to include additional Abrams 
tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
  The bill authorizes strike fighter capability and capacity shortfalls 
and authorizes over $3 billion in additional funding to procure new 
fifth-generation aircraft and modernize our fourth-generation fleet. 
These projects address unfunded requirements for the Air Force, Navy, 
and Marine Corps.
  The bill also continues to address the needs of the National Guard 
and Reserve components by authorizing an additional $250 million for 
their equipment and modernization.
  This bill prevents the Air Force from reducing critical ISR 
capabilities.
  I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Langevin), the ranking member of the 
Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.
  Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I would first like to begin by thanking 
Chairman Thornberry and Ranking Member Smith and Chairwoman Stefanik 
for their tireless work on this bill. It is a good work product, and I 
am very proud to be associated with it and be supporting it.
  I would also like to thank the Armed Services Committee staff for 
their contributions for another successful and bipartisan NDAA, in 
particular, Lindsay, Pete, Kevin, and Neve. I want to recognize Kathryn 
Mitchell, my MLA on my staff, along with my two fellows, Sean and John, 
for their contributions and support during the time we put together 
this mark.
  I am extremely pleased with the Emerging Threats and Capabilities 
portion of the NDAA. I want to congratulate Chairwoman Stefanik. This 
is her first NDAA as chairwoman, and it was a pleasure working with her 
in a strong bipartisan way.
  The conference agreement preserves important steps forward when it 
comes to cyber, information operations, and advanced technologies, and 
it provides support to our special operators and their families.
  When it comes to cyber, the bill requires the Department of Defense 
to conduct a cyber posture review to ensure we have appropriate 
authorities and policies in place to allow our forces to operate 
successfully in cyberspace.

                              {time}  1415

  It also reinvigorates the DOD's cyber scholarship program, which 
provides scholarships and grant opportunities at colleges and 
universities to boost the Nation's cyber forces and to bring their 
expertise into the Department after they graduate.
  Additionally, the finalized language includes a provision that I 
wrote in conjunction with Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member Smith, 
and Chairwoman Stefanik to require timely notifications for sensitive 
cyber military operations outside areas of active hostilities, ensuring 
Congress is able to conduct appropriate oversight in this new domain.

[[Page H9203]]

  The bill makes important investments in advanced technologies that 
will be game changers for our warfighters, such as the electromagnetic 
railgun. We never want to send our servicemembers into a fair fight, 
and transitioning critical technologies like these will ensure that we 
avoid the valley of death and provide them with the very best tools 
that are available.
  Finally, I am very pleased with the final conference report 
preserving my amendment expressing the sense of Congress that climate 
change is a national security challenge and requiring the department to 
report its effects.
  This important bipartisan provision represents one of the most 
significant legislative actions Congress has taken on this issue, and 
this shift in policy will better prepare our Armed Forces, ensure 
mission resiliency, and improve our readiness to face the changing 
climate.
  Again, I want to thank the Armed Services Committee for their 
excellent work on this critical bill, particularly Chairman Thornberry, 
Ranking Member Smith, Chairwoman Stefanik, and, again, all the members 
of both the committee staff and my staff as well. It was a pleasure 
working on this very bipartisan bill in support of all of our 
warfighters, who we want to make sure that we provide the very best 
tools that they need to do their job safely and effectively. I thank 
them for all that they do for our Nation.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Alabama (Mr. Rogers), the chair of the Subcommittee on Strategic 
Forces.
  Mr. ROGERS of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this 
year's NDAA and commend the chairman for his outstanding leadership in 
getting us to the point we are today.
  This year's bill takes the first step to fixing the broken national 
security space enterprise within the Air Force. In this bill, we 
streamline the current fragmented leadership structure, eliminating 
over 20 unnecessary internal Air Force boxes on the Air Force 
acquisition organization chart.
  The bill empowers the commander of the Air Force Space Command with 
sole authority to organize, train, and equip space forces. It 
terminates duplicative and ineffective offices like the Principal DOD 
Space Advisor, the Defense Space Council, and the Air Force's A-11 
office.
  Most importantly, it is a step in a long path to getting space right 
for the betterment of our warfighters.
  Hopefully, over the coming year, the Senate will focus on the chronic 
problems facing national security space and work with us to establish a 
separate Space Corps.
  On missile defense, the bill ensures that we stay ahead of the 
threat, which, as we have seen over the last few years from North Korea 
and their two dozen missile tests, they are advancing rapidly.
  Also, in this bill, we are authorizing more interceptors, 
accelerating research and development for advanced technologies, and 
improving acquisition authorities for missile defense systems.
  And let's also not forget about what the bill does for our nuclear 
deterrent. All three legs of the triad will age out and begin retiring 
over the next decade, but this bill ensures the replacement programs 
remain on schedule.
  On space launch, we continue the committee's dedication to the 
development of a domestic replacement for the RD-180 engines and to 
appropriately scoping the DOD investment in development of current or 
planned launch vehicles.
  Finally, I am very pleased with the progress we have made toward 
getting some of the surplus 1911 pistols into the hands of collectors 
and off the government dime for storage costs.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge support of this legislation.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Cooper), who is the ranking member of the 
Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.
  Mr. COOPER. Mr. Speaker, I thank Ranking Member Smith, Chairman 
Thornberry, Chairman McCain on the Senate side, and Ranking Member 
Reid.
  It is very important that Congress continue this great tradition of 
passing a Defense Authorization Act. This will be the 57th year. My 
constituents back home want nothing more than for us to cooperate in a 
bipartisan fashion for the good of the country. This bill, H.R. 2810, 
does that.
  In particular, I would like to thank the Chairman of the Strategic 
Forces Subcommittee, Mike Rogers, who has been a great partner, as we 
do several very important things:
  Number one, modernize our nuclear forces and keep the effort going on 
nuclear nonproliferation; we fund critical missile defense needs in the 
face of rising threats from North Korea and other countries; we support 
U.S.-Israeli missile defense; and we also strengthen, dramatically, our 
capabilities in space.
  This Defense Authorization bill takes a decisive first step to 
address the fragmentation and lack of focus on national security space 
issues that the Air Force has shown by reorganizing space within the 
Air Force and within the Department of Defense.
  While it does not create the Space Corps that we preferred, it 
achieves many of the goals that we set out to achieve. Notably, it 
consolidates acquisition, operations, and training of space forces 
under the Air Force Space Command and eliminates ineffective or 
redundant authorities across the Department. Our assets in space, 
unfortunately, are increasingly vulnerable to attack. This 
reorganization will begin to provide the focus and coordination 
necessary to effectively address these growing threats.

  I thank the chairman of the subcommittee for his strong leadership in 
this effort and for making this a bipartisan process.
  I would also like to thank the Deputy Secretary of Defense for his 
engagement on this important issue. We will continue to hold the 
Department accountable during this transition period.
  I am also pleased that the bill begins to counter the vulnerability 
of our GPS systems in space which underpin many defense and civilian 
systems. We increase the resiliency and alternatives to GPS, including 
thinking outside the box, by relying on our allies and perhaps even 
exploiting Russian or Chinese signals as a means to deter attack on our 
systems.
  The conference also dropped restrictions on extending the new START 
Treaty, which verifiably limits the number of nuclear weapons that 
Russia or the United States can deploy.
  The bill, more effectively, holds Russia accountable for violating 
the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by imposing increasing 
sanctions related to those violations rather than prematurely 
nullifying the treaty.
  The conference report also encourages a dialogue with Russia and 
China to reduce risks of miscalculations that could lead to an 
unintended nuclear war in a crisis. Pressuring Russia, while avoiding 
an unnecessary nuclear arms race or a precipitous nuclear war, should 
be top priorities for our defense in the current, more volatile 
environment.
  In this context, I support the increased focus on modernizing our 
nuclear command and control system, which has been too long over-cost 
and delayed.
  Finally, the bill ends years of wasteful spending on the unaffordable 
and failed MOX project in South Carolina by allowing the Department of 
Energy to terminate it and move to a solution at a fraction of the 
cost.
  Mr. Speaker, I support this bill.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Virginia (Mr. Wittman), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower 
and Projection Forces.
  Mr. WITTMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the National Defense 
Authorization Act of 2018.
  This bill fully funds our Armed Forces, increases troop end-strength, 
and sets in earnest the modernization of our military and ensures that 
our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are properly compensated for 
the sacrifices they make for a grateful nation on a daily basis.
  In my role as the Seapower and Projection Forces chairman, I vowed 
months ago to set the conditions for the Navy to grow to 355 ships, in 
accordance with the Navy's own force structure assessment. I am proud 
to say that this bill sends the signal to our Navy, the industrial 
base, and our adversaries that a 355-ship Navy is not

[[Page H9204]]

just a theoretical idea, but rather an achievable reality.
  The bill expands on the eight ships requested by the administration 
by adding an additional five ships. The bill also recommends additional 
advanced procurement for the Virginia-class attack submarines, while 
fully funding the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program.
  As to aircraft, the bill fully funds the B-21 Raider bomber program, 
a critical component of the future nuclear triad.
  This bill also recommends an expansion of KC-46A aerial refuelers, C-
130J airlift, and P-8 submarine aircraft. Finally, the bill delivers 
expanded authorities that will save the taxpayers billions of dollars.
  Now, some of our colleagues have suggested that our defense budget is 
excessive and that additional moneys should be provided towards other 
efforts. Mr. Speaker, this thought is not only misguided, but it is 
dangerous. We have a constitutional responsibility to provide for the 
common defense of our Nation. We will not shrink from that 
responsibility, and I hope none of my colleagues undermine the efforts 
to deliver the $634 billion base moneys that are required for our 
national security.
  Finally, I want to recognize Ranking Member Joe Courtney. He has been 
and continues to be a true partner in ensuring the Seapower and 
Projection Forces of our Nation are properly resourced. I do not think 
that we would be anywhere close to delivering the 355-ship Navy or 
providing for our Air Force's deep-strike capability without his 
steadfast resolve and sincere efforts to realize bipartisan solutions.
  Mr. Speaker, I also want to reflect that with the chairman and the 
ranking member and their leadership, and I urge my colleagues to 
support the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Courtney), the ranking member of the 
Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces.
  Mr. COURTNEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2810, and 
I want to begin by congratulating Chairman Thornberry and Ranking 
Member Smith for their really skillful bipartisan guidance of this 
measure.
  The vote that took place last summer when the House passed it the 
first time through was the largest bipartisan vote, since 2008, for an 
NDAA, and that didn't happen by accident. It was because of their great 
work.
  I also want to thank my colleague, Mr. Wittman, on the Seapower and 
Projection Forces Subcommittee. It is a very bipartisan effort, and the 
result, I think, really demonstrates that, when you do it that way, you 
get good results.
  I also want to congratulate the staff, Dave Sienicki, Phil 
MacNaughton, and also Lieutenant Commander Dominic Kramer, a Navy 
fellow who is here today. Their support and work were invaluable in 
terms of getting the seapower portion of the bill to the really solid 
place that it is today.

  Again, last year, 2016, the Navy came forward with a force structure 
assessment that said: Based on national security needs around the 
world, our fleet size needs to grow. When the President's budget came 
over last May, unfortunately, there were only eight new ships in that 
budget; but our committee, again, showing its independence as a coequal 
branch of government, produced a seapower mark that boosted that build 
rate to 15 and, again, has us now on a pathway to achieve the goal that 
the Navy identified last year.
  In particular, in terms of the undersea fleet, our combatant 
commanders, whether it is an Asia-Pacific or a European command, have 
been loudly warning Congress that we should not allow the decline in 
the fleet size to occur.
  This bill, again, authorizes $5.9 billion for the Virginia-class 
submarine program and provides multiyear procurement authority to enter 
into a contract for 13 Virginia-class, allowing for a build rate to 
move from two a year to three fast-attack submarines in 2020, 2022, and 
2023.
  The National Sea Based Deterrence Fund, which, again, our committee 
created in 2014, extends continuous production authorities which the 
Navy has told us will save $383 million in the Columbia-class program, 
which, again, is about smart procurement, which Mr. Smith referred to 
at the beginning.
  Again, there are other provisions in the bill that I would just note. 
There was no BRAC that is authorized in this bill. We also gave 
authority to the United States as part of the Ukraine Security 
Assistance Initiative to provide medical treatment to wounded Ukrainian 
soldiers, as well as training to Ukrainian healthcare specialists, 
which our allies desperately need. Again, it is a very, I think, smart 
move by the committee.
  Mr. Speaker, as has been noted, this is the 57th year in a row that 
we have produced an NDAA. It is because we follow regular order. It is 
because we respect both sides of the aisle in terms of the contribution 
that they make.
  We still have meat left on the bone to get the 2018 spending bill 
done, and hopefully the example that Mr. Thornberry and Mr. Smith set 
in terms of allowing the process to breathe is the way we are going to 
get to a successful result, just as we did with 2017.
  Again, I want to congratulate the leadership of our committee, and I 
strongly urge all the Members on both sides of the aisle to support 
passage of this measure.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Colorado (Mr. Coffman), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Military 
Personnel.
  Mr. COFFMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2810, the 
conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
Year 2018.
  The conference report contains significant policy and funding 
initiatives that continue our commitment to our troops and their 
families, all while maintaining military readiness and addressing 
important military personnel issues.
  The provisions contained in this bill provide our warfighters, 
retirees, and their families the necessary pay and benefits to sustain 
them in today's highly stressed force.
  To that end, this bill establishes a fully funded by-law pay raise 
for all our servicemembers. After years of lower than by-law pay raise 
requests, it is critical that we continue to give our troops and their 
families the pay increases they have earned.

                              {time}  1430

  It increases the end-strengths of the Active National Guard and 
Reserve Forces, thereby increasing mission readiness while reducing the 
stress and strain on the force and their families. It permanently 
preserves special survivor indemnity allowance payments and closes the 
gap in the ``widows tax'' to surviving military spouses.
  It also continues to improve sexual assault prevention and response 
by adding a new provision to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 
specifically prohibiting nonconsensual sharing of intimate images; 
expanding Special Victims' Counsel training; and expanding the annual 
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Report.
  Finally, spouses of servicemembers are challenged by varying State 
licensure and certification requirements when forced to move to a new 
State by military orders. Rather than imposing a single Federal 
standard on the States, we provide a $500 reimbursement to defray these 
costs. We ask States to work with the Secretary of Defense to develop 
common standards where possible.
  In conclusion, I want to thank the ranking member, Ms. Speier, and 
her staff for their contributions to this report.
  Of course, we were joined by an active, informed, and dedicated group 
of subcommittee members. Their recommendations and priorities are 
clearly reflected in the conference report for the National Defense 
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.
  Mr. Speaker, I strongly urge my colleagues to support the passage of 
this conference report.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from Massachusetts (Ms. Tsongas), the ranking member of the 
Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces.
  Ms. TSONGAS. Mr. Speaker, I thank Ranking Member Smith and Chairman 
Thornberry for their leadership. I would also like to thank Chairman 
Turner for his partnership and leadership this year on the Tactical Air 
and

[[Page H9205]]

Land Forces Subcommittee and for maintaining the spirit of 
bipartisanship that is the tradition of this committee.
  Mr. Speaker, the fiscal year 2018 NDAA takes significant steps to 
support and protect military members and their families. However, I 
share Ranking Member Smith's concerns that this year's bill authorizes 
a level of defense funding that is wholly unrealistic.
  The numbers included in this bill are well above caps placed on 
defense spending by the Budget Control Act, and prioritize defense 
spending at a devastating cost to important Federal agencies and other 
investments that are critical to maintaining our national 
competitiveness and the future of our country. They are being put 
forward at the same time that we are considering a tax reform bill that 
will significantly cut revenues and, by the latest estimate, add $1.7 
trillion to the Federal deficit. Accordingly, the increased spending 
included in this bill are hollow numbers and we are failing to deliver 
a credible or sensible long-term plan to the Defense Department.
  Throughout my tenure on this committee, I have been guided by our 
moral obligation to ensure that the men and women that we send into 
harm's way are properly equipped and the best protected in the world. I 
would never deny them the tools they need to defend themselves and our 
Nation, which is why I will be voting for this compromise.
  I understand the necessity of many of the programs that are funded 
each year in this bill and believe its passage is needed to maintain 
American military superiority against a variety of threats while 
supporting our men and women in uniform. But ongoing budget 
negotiations need to get realistic. We owe it to our servicemembers to 
find a responsible, balanced path forward that works for both our 
national and economic security.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman 
from Missouri (Mrs. Hartzler), the distinguished chairwoman of the 
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
  Mrs. HARTZLER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the 
conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
Year 2018.
  I would like to thank Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member Smith, all 
of the conferees, and the committee staff for their hard work on this 
important piece of legislation.
  As Members of Congress, it is our responsibility to provide support 
for our men and women in uniform while they selflessly serve our 
Nation. This bill authorizes a much-needed $634 billion in base budget 
requirements for our national security. This number is the minimum 
requirement needed to even begin the process of restoring our 
military's readiness.
  Tragically, this year alone, we have heard report after report of 
deadly training accidents. These accidents demonstrate severe readiness 
shortfalls across the services. We cannot stand by as our men and women 
in uniform continue to suffer. Now is the time to invest, and this bill 
does just that.
  The NDAA authorizes a 2.4 percent pay increase for our troops; 
authorizes 24 additional F-18 Super Hornets to help fill the Navy's 
strike fighter shortfall; and it fully funds the B-21 bomber, a 
critical platform needed to deter and defeat future aggression around 
the world.
  I am proud to represent Missouri's Fourth Congressional District, 
which is home to Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood. This 
bill funds modernization programs for the B-2 bomber, authorizes $50 
million in the DOD impact aid for military-connected schools, and fully 
authorizes a new hospital facility and blood processing center at Fort 
Leonard Wood.
  As chairwoman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, I am 
proud of the provisions in the conference report that will improve the 
foreign military sales process and provide the National Nuclear 
Security Administration with much-needed flexibility to address the 
crippling infrastructure of the U.S. nuclear security enterprise.
  I want to thank Ranking Member Seth Moulton for his support in 
working on these important issues in a bipartisan fashion.
  Mr. Speaker, our troops deserve this bill and they deserve the 
funding that this bill authorizes. Thanks to the leadership of Chairman 
Thornberry, this conference report increased defense spending to meet 
the needs of today's warfighter. I am proud of this critical bill, and 
I urge my colleagues to support its passage.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Moulton), the ranking member on the 
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
  Mr. MOULTON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on the National Defense 
Authorization Act. I must say that I am so proud to be a member of a 
committee so known for its bipartisanship. I am particularly proud to 
serve on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee with my 
colleague, Vicky Hartzler, from Missouri.
  I am concerned that this administration is failing to confront the 
threats our country faces, like Russia, so I am encouraged that this 
bill includes a package of measures to deter Russia, including U.S. 
training and support for our European allies; a plan for additional 
sanctions on Russia linked to treaty violations; as well as a 
requirement for the administration to develop a strategy to counter 
Russia over the long term.
  The bill also forces the same type of accountability that I have been 
pushing for on Syria policy for a long time, requiring the President to 
submit a comprehensive Syria strategy, including diplomatic, military, 
and humanitarian assistance initiatives.
  Too often, big bills like this forget the troops on the ground, but 
this bill raises military pay by 2.5 percent and takes action on 
specific concerns raised to me and my team by requiring a study on 
improving opioid prescription practices as well as additional mental 
healthcare for those transitioning out of Active Duty.
  The bill includes a provision I supported for our critical allies in 
the fight against terror. The Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program 
affords Afghan interpreters who have risked their lives--not only for 
their country, but for ours--the ability to resettle in the U.S. due to 
threats that they and their families face on a daily basis because they 
work with U.S. troops.
  Here at home, our military families selflessly support our men and 
women in harm's way and provide the backbone so important to military 
communities across our country. That is why I led an effort to include 
a requirement for the DOD to examine a new Military Family Service 
Corps to support volunteer efforts surrounding spousal career support, 
career transition assistance, community integration for military 
families, support for liaison programs with schools, as well as 
families with children of special needs. By building on these efforts, 
we can ensure our servicemembers and their families are supported to 
the fullest extent possible.
  Despite the important provisions included in this bill, it does come 
at a time when we as a Congress have forced the Department of Defense 
to operate under yet another continuing resolution in the absence of a 
full-year budget; and we are authorizing an unprecedented $692 billion 
in defense spending, blowing past the budget cap set by the Budget 
Control Act, by over $80 billion.
  All the while, Republicans are pushing one of the most aggressive tax 
cut packages in history, set to cost our country at least $1.7 
trillion. Simply put, Republicans don't know how to balance a 
checkbook. Ultimately, it is our servicemembers and their families who 
will pay the price.
  As Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff, said in 2010 and again in 2016:

       Our Nation's long-term debt is the single greatest threat 
     to our national security. We ought to balance the budget 
     because it is the right thing to do for the troops.

  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman 
from New York (Ms. Stefanik), the distinguished chairwoman of the 
Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.
  Ms. STEFANIK. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the 
conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
Year 2018.

[[Page H9206]]

I strongly believe that this bipartisan bill puts us on a course 
towards readiness recovery, ensuring that our military is fully 
equipped, trained, and supported.
  As the chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and 
Capabilities, I am especially proud of our contributions to ensure 
proper resourcing and authorities for cyber warfare, safeguarding our 
technological superiority and defense innovation, enabling Special 
Operations Forces to counter terrorism and irregular warfare threats 
around the world, and energizing programs and activities that counter 
the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
  I would specifically like to highlight what our subcommittee has 
achieved this year in the areas of cyber warfare and cyber operations. 
Our emphasis on cyber has carried three broad themes:
  First, we increase congressional oversight of cyber operations by 
including H.R. 2807, a bill introduced by myself, Ranking Member 
Langevin, Chairman Thornberry, and Ranking Member Smith, which will 
ensure Congress is kept fully informed of sensitive military cyber 
operations. We also require a cyber posture review to clarify U.S. 
cyber deterrence policy and strategy.
  Second, we bolster international partnerships for cyber warfare to 
counter aggressive adversaries such as Russia, China, and North Korea. 
This includes support for our NATO partners and those within the Asia-
Pacific region to enhance partnered cyber capabilities and information 
sharing, and to counter and mitigate adversarial propaganda efforts and 
information warfare campaigns.
  Third, the bill continues to build and enhance our U.S. cyber warfare 
capabilities and activities--principally within U.S. Cyber Command, but 
also across our government--with the services and within the 
intelligence community. This includes resiliency of Department of 
Defense networks, weapons systems, and supply chains.

  Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, this bill reinforces counterterrorism and 
unconventional warfare capabilities by fully resourcing U.S. Special 
Operations Command's programs and activities, including ongoing efforts 
in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Eastern Europe.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield an additional 30 seconds to the 
gentlewoman from New York.
  Ms. STEFANIK. Mr. Speaker, we also include a new 2-year authority to 
counter irregular warfare and unconventional threats, such as those 
being posed by Russia and other adversaries.
  Before I conclude, I would like to thank Chairman Mac Thornberry for 
his leadership, as well as my subcommittee ranking member, Jim 
Langevin, from Rhode Island, for his consistent bipartisan leadership 
on all of these issues.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill and to vote 
``yes'' on the conference report.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Carbajal), a member of the Armed 
Services Committee.
  Mr. CARBAJAL. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Ranking Member 
Smith, Chairman Thornberry, and the committee staff for working with me 
to include language that brings attention to the threat of nuclear 
proliferation.
  Currently, nine countries possess over 15,000 nuclear weapons, and 
the United States plans to spend $1.2 trillion over the next 30 years 
to upgrade and expand its nuclear stockpile. As we build up our nuclear 
arsenal, we are increasing the risk of these destructive weapons ending 
up in the hands of terrorists.
  The language I included in this bill stresses the importance of 
addressing this danger and requires the Secretary of Defense to explain 
how the Department of Defense is responding to this threat. When 
Secretary Mattis testified before our committee, I asked him about this 
ongoing threat and he told me that nuclear proliferation has not 
received enough attention over quite a few years.
  This amendment is a welcome first step in the development of a robust 
strategy against nuclear proliferation.

                              {time}  1445

  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Ohio (Mr. Wenstrup), who is a very valued member of our committee.
  Mr. WENSTRUP. Mr. Speaker, providing for the common defense, that is 
a constitutional duty that this governing body was tasked with. By 
passing the NDAA, we are working to ensure that our country keeps faith 
with those who bravely serve and their families.
  While the world has grown more dangerous, our military has grown 
smaller. Our men and women in uniform and their equipment have been 
stretched thin after years of war, billions in budget cuts, downsizing, 
and continued funding uncertainty. The 2018 NDAA reverses these trend 
lines.
  Passing this bill fully funds the 2.4 percent pay raise our troops 
have earned so we can support our troops and they can support their 
families.
  This legislation brings attention to maximizing our military health 
systems and includes a study on safe opioid prescribing practices for 
our troops so our warfighters receive the best possible treatment.
  Rebuilding our readiness along with acquisition reform, equipment 
modernization, and increased end strength will better prepare our men 
and women as they put on the uniform and fight for us. Our troops serve 
so that we can sleep well at night, and they ask for nothing in return.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge the full House to vote in favor of the NDAA.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, may I inquire as to how much 
time each side has remaining.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Washington has 6 minutes 
remaining. The gentleman from Texas has 12 minutes remaining.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Veasey), who is a member of the Armed 
Services Committee.
  Mr. VEASEY. Mr. Speaker, the House and Senate Armed Services 
Committees have demonstrated admirable bipartisanship in completing 
this year's NDAA.
  This past weekend, as I celebrated Veterans Day in the Dallas/Fort 
Worth area by honoring local veterans, we spoke about the importance of 
taking care of our servicemembers, and I think this year's NDAA does a 
good job in doing that.
  I am very proud of the assistance to legal permanent residents who 
serve in our Armed Forces in understanding their naturalization 
options. I am also very happy about investments we made in improving 
diversity, such as the DOD Cyber Scholarship Program, grants for women 
and minorities in STEM, and funding for HBCUs. I think that these 
investments will yield a diverse and stronger national defense 
workforce for our country's future.
  I am also happy that we have continued support for the tactical 
aircraft that are manufactured in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, which are 
very critical to our local economy and our Nation's defense.
  I am very happy to have been a conferee, and I am very proud of the 
hard work that the committee staff has done to help complete this vital 
piece of legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this conference 
report, and I want to respectfully remind my colleagues on both sides 
of the aisle how critical this funding is to our national security.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Mississippi (Mr. Kelly), who is another valuable member of our 
committee.
  Mr. KELLY of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Thornberry 
for his continued leadership in rebuilding and reforming the Department 
of Defense.
  Today I rise in strong support of H.R. 2810, the National Defense 
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.
  As a 32-year veteran of the Mississippi Army National Guard and two 
Iraq deployments, I know the national security challenges facing our 
country firsthand.
  This year's NDAA makes important strides toward achieving equipment 
and benefits parity for our armed services' Reserve component. The 
enemies of this country do not distinguish between the Active component 
and Reserve component of our military, and neither should we.

[[Page H9207]]

  I am happy to report that this year's NDAA increases the size of both 
our Active component and our Reserve component. It also increases 
benefits parity to our Reserve component soldiers by authorizing those 
deployed on title X orders to receive preactivation and postactivation 
TRICARE coverage when on 12304a and 12304b orders. Additionally, the 
FY18 NDAA will allow for procurement of much-needed equipment for our 
Reserve component.
  Finally, I would like to thank my subcommittee chairmen--Mr. Coffman, 
Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Turner--for their leadership and hard work through 
this process.
  Mr. Speaker, I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting this 
legislation.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from Guam (Ms. Bordallo), who is the ranking member of the 
Subcommittee on Readiness, for purposes of a colloquy with the 
chairman.
  Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and 
wish to engage the gentleman from Texas, the chairman of the Armed 
Services Committee, in a colloquy.
  Let me first start by thanking Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member 
Smith, and the committee staff for working diligently with us to 
address the workforce issues impacting the military realignment on 
Guam.
  The conference agreement includes a provision to remedy the H-2B visa 
denial issue, particularly affecting construction projects on Guam, by 
granting USCIS the authority to approve temporary workers for 
construction work directly connected to or associated with the military 
realignment occurring on Guam through 2023.
  Providing for this small, temporary workforce is very important, 
given the strategic importance of Guam as the sole U.S. territory in 
the western Pacific capable of basing significant joint force 
capabilities and the reality that exceedingly few U.S. mainland workers 
are willing to travel to Guam to perform this temporary work.
  My understanding is that the intent behind the inclusion of the 
phrase ``associated with'' is to allow for approval of visas for 
individuals performing work not only on military-funded facilities and 
infrastructure, but also for civilian infrastructure projects outside 
the gate, for example, infrastructure projects funded by the Federal 
Government, the government of Guam, or nongovernmental sources that are 
being done, in part, because of the increased number of military 
personnel and military families moving to Guam.
  Is that the chairman's understanding of the intent behind the 
provision?
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Will the gentlewoman yield?
  Ms. BORDALLO. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the ranking member of 
the Readiness Subcommittee for her work on this issue.
  From my visit to Guam last year, I have seen the tremendous military 
buildup and military value of Guam, and I understand that more is 
needed as Guam remains a strategic fixture in ensuring peace and 
stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
  Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield an additional 30 seconds to the 
gentlewoman from Guam if she would continue to yield to me.
  Ms. BORDALLO. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. I agree with the gentlewoman's understanding of the 
provision.
  Further, I support efforts to ensure that Guam has the workforce 
needed to maintain its strategic posture and military presence 
necessary to the national security of the United States. I look forward 
to continuing to work with the gentlewoman from Guam toward that end.
  Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman very much and 
appreciate his great support and look forward to continuing to work 
with him on the implementation of this provision and to address future 
workforce needs on Guam in support of the military realignment.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Indiana (Mr. Banks), who is a valuable member of our committee.
  Mr. BANKS of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, it is a great honor of my time in 
Congress to serve on the House Armed Services Committee with Chairman 
Thornberry, and I am grateful for his leadership.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the fiscal year 2018 National 
Defense Authorization Act conference report.
  As the most recently deployed veteran serving in Congress, I have 
seen the national security challenges facing our country, firsthand. 
While these challenges are not easily solved, this legislation 
represents a significant step forward.
  Whether it is giving our troops a well-deserved raise, significantly 
increasing end strength numbers for each of the services, allowing for 
the continued transfer of excess defense articles to allies abroad who 
are in need, or funding our vital missile defense programs, this 
legislation begins the long process of rebuilding and reforming our 
military so we are ready for whatever comes next.
  Mr. Speaker, my gratitude goes out to those serving both here at home 
and abroad, and I urge my colleagues to support this important 
bipartisan legislation.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Nebraska (Mr. Bacon), who is a valuable member of our committee.
  Mr. BACON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the 2018 National 
Defense Authorization Act and commend Chairman Thornberry for his 
exemplary leadership in our national defense.
  I join my House colleagues in sending a strong, bipartisan message to 
the American people that national security must be and will be a 
national priority for this Congress.
  As a member of the Armed Services Committee and a conferee, I am 
proud of the strong, bipartisan consensus we have forged in both 
Chambers to reversing our dangerous decline in military readiness. Yet 
we must temper any pride we feel with the sober reality of the state we 
are in today: defense spending as a percent of GDP is at historic lows, 
operational tempo is at historic highs, and threats are growing more 
stark.
  There have been 31 CRs in 10 years, which is a disgrace: a decade of 
deferred maintenance and modernization, aircraft that don't fly, ships 
that don't sail, and vehicles that can't move, shoot, or communicate on 
the modern battlefield. Mishap rates are rising, fatalities are rising, 
and training is at an all-time low. We have got to fix this.
  Despite the lessons of history, we are simply unprepared to fight a 
modern war in space, cyberspace, in the air, on land, and at sea.
  I served in uniform under the past five Presidents and witnessed this 
erosion of battle readiness firsthand. For me, this is personal.
  This NDAA repairs the damage. The additional funding authorized in 
this bill makes a credible down payment in preserving the common 
defense and sends a message to both our adversaries and our military of 
peace through strength.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote for this conference report.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Wisconsin (Mr. Gallagher), who is another valuable member of our 
committee.
  Mr. GALLAGHER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to urge my colleagues in the 
House to support the 2018 NDAA conference report.
  This body has no higher or more urgent priority than providing for 
the common defense and restoring our military readiness. I am proud of 
the final text that my colleagues in the House and Senate worked 
together on so diligently.
  Not only does this legislation authorize a total of nearly $700 
billion in defense spending, a $26 billion increase above the 
President's budget request, but it also provides the largest pay raise 
for our troops in 8 years.
  This NDAA also gets us closer to the critical goal of a 355-ship Navy 
and includes funding for three littoral combat ships, helping to meet 
the Navy's urgent and enduring requirement for more small surface 
combatants.
  I want to thank Chairman Thornberry for his leadership and my 
colleagues in the House and Senate who fought tooth and nail to give 
our warfighters the resources they need to deter threats, support our 
allies, and, above all, keep the American people safe.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from

[[Page H9208]]

Pennsylvania (Mr. Rothfus), who is a strong proponent of a strong 
national defense.
  Mr. ROTHFUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman, Mr. Thornberry, and 
the committee for their diligent work on this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this NDAA conference report. 
I applaud this bill's goal to improve the readiness level of our 
military which has been depleted of critical resources after many years 
of defending this country.
  Not only does this legislation begin to rebuild our forces, it 
includes a long overdue pay raise for our troops.
  I applaud the bill's reforms to improve the military healthcare 
system and make sure taxpayer resources are used appropriately.
  I especially want to highlight the current situation in Afghanistan, 
which needs drastic improvement. Shoring up Afghani security forces is 
only part of a short-term solution. We need a long-term strategy that 
brings stability to Afghanistan as well as the entire region. The NDAA 
directs Secretary Mattis to develop such a 5-year strategy. This is a 
good step, and I urge the military to continue thinking long term.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge all my colleagues to support this report.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Colorado (Mr. Lamborn), who is a valuable member of our committee.
  Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for his great work 
throughout this whole process leading the committee and getting this to 
the finish line, but we need to push it over the finish line.
  Mr. Speaker, for 56 years, this bill has been the primary way in 
which Congress executes its Article I constitutional duty to provide 
for the common defense. This year's bill finally begins to rebuild our 
military after a half decade of cuts which slashed nearly one-quarter 
of the defense budget. For 6 years, we have just been barely getting 
by: cutting resources as the world becomes more dangerous, asking more 
and more of those who serve, and putting off tough choices. We are at a 
key decision point.
  This bill will continue to save billions of taxpayer dollars while 
cutting wasteful bureaucracy and streamlining acquisition, but it will 
also strengthen missile defense and, in many ways, make our military 
more focused on its core mission of preparing to fight and win wars.
  There are so many good things in the bill, I can't go over all of 
them. I sincerely ask my fellow Members to support this NDAA.

                              {time}  1500

  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to close, and I 
yield myself the balance of my time.
  As has been mentioned, this is an excellent bill that a lot of people 
did very good work on. I thank them for that.
  The only issue I want to raise in closing is the money. That is the 
sticking point and the difficulty that we have.
  This bill, as it is currently constructed, is $80 billion above the 
budget caps. In the 6 years since the budget caps passed, we have been 
unwilling to raise those.
  But we have a larger problem. We have a $20 trillion debt. Our 
deficit is close to $700 billion. It has no prospect of going down 
anytime soon. At the same time, we have other needs.
  During this debate, we focused like a laser on armed services and the 
needs of national security and our troops, as well we should. Those 
needs are incredibly important. I don't doubt that for a second. But 
you have to look at the whole or we are not going to be able to meet 
the needs of our national security and our troops. The amount of 
revenue that we take in as a country, unsurprisingly, impacts--or 
should impact--the amount of money that we can spend.
  We are having this debate now. We are talking about how underfunded 
the military is and how badly we need to shore up our readiness. I 
agree with all that. The rest of this week we are going to figure out 
how to make sure that our government takes in trillions of dollars in 
less money. That is wildly inconsistent. If we believe we have these 
needs, we ought to be able to pay for them.
  Then there are the other aspects of the budget. I know we are not 
supposed to talk about that during the Armed Services Committee debate 
on the National Defense Authorization Act, but the needs for infracture 
and education are things that also make our country strong, not to 
mention the Department of Homeland Security, the intelligence agencies, 
and other aspects of our national security, which are all part of the 
same whole.
  If we are going to get to a fiscally responsible place, we can't just 
say defense gets whatever it wants and then let the chips fall where 
they may elsewhere.
  On the Armed Services Committee, if we truly care about making sure 
that our troops have enough money, we need to do two more things in 
addition to this bill.
  Number one, we need to argue that we shouldn't do a massive tax cut 
to undermine our ability to fund defense and national security.
  Number two, we need to take a hard look at our national security 
strategy and figure out where we can save money.
  If we keep looking at every single section--it is too short here; it 
is too short here--we do not have enough money. Even if we had a fit of 
fiscal responsibility and decided to make cuts elsewhere--which hasn't 
happened, by the way--and we decided to raise revenue instead of 
cutting it, even if we did that, we are still looking at needs within 
the national security budget. When you look at the programs that people 
want to fund over the next 10 years, they are wildly beyond the amount 
of money that we have.
  We need a national security strategy that has an honest look at how 
much money we are going to have. Otherwise, we are not serving our 
troops.
  I know the comeback is: How can you put a price on national security? 
They should get whatever they need.
  The only problem with that is that they don't. If we have a national 
security strategy that exceeds the amount of money we have, the ones 
left holding the bag are our troops. They are the ones who are asked to 
do missions that they are not adequately trained to perform. They are 
the ones who are asked to train without the adequate resources to train 
properly.
  That is what we must fund. To do that, we need to do more than just 
pass this bill. We need to have a fiscally responsible approach to the 
overall budget.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge passage of the bill, and I yield back the balance 
of my time.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  Mr. Speaker, I, again, want to thank all the Members who have 
participated in this debate, and even more importantly, all the Members 
who have contributed to this product, especially the members of the 
Armed Services Committee. Truthfully, Members from both sides of the 
aisle throughout the House have contributed to it.
  We have spent several moments here talking about a lot of the details 
that are in this bill. Mr. Speaker, it is a rather large bill. It 
covers everything from how much we pay our troops to how many ships and 
tanks and planes and bullets we buy, as well as what we research and 
various policies of the Department of Defense. So there is a lot in 
here.
  Let me take a moment just to step back and remind everybody what this 
is all about. Our Constitution says one of the reasons we have a 
Federal Government is to provide for the common defense. As a matter of 
fact, I think that is the first job of the Federal Government: to 
defend the country, to defend our lives, and to defend our freedoms.
  As a matter of fact, Article I, section 8 of the Constitution says 
specifically it is this Congress' responsibility to build and support, 
provide and maintain the military forces of the United States of 
America. That is our job.
  By passing this bill, that is how we fulfill that job. But as we have 
talked about, what has happened in recent years is the world has grown 
more dangerous. Yet we have cut the defense budget.
  As a matter of fact, we are spending 18 percent less now on defense 
than was spent in 2010, if you measure it in real terms, apples to 
apples. I cannot think of another significant Federal program that has 
been cut nearly 20 percent over the last 7 years, yet that is what has 
happened in defense.

[[Page H9209]]

  What has happened as a result of that?
  Our troops have borne the burden. We are 2,000 pilots short in the 
Air Force today. Sixty percent of the F-18s in the Navy and Marine 
Corps cannot fly today.

  As Mr. Wilson said, we have just seen tragic accidents in the 
Pacific, where 17 soldiers have lost their lives. We have had other 
accidents where others have lost their lives and other accidents where 
they have not.
  The point I am trying to make is that part of the responsibility for 
all of that happening rests here with the Congress of the United States 
not fulfilling adequately, in my view, its job under the Constitution.
  I would say one more thing, Mr. Speaker. I agree with virtually all 
of what the ranking member said about the importance of having a 
strategy and then resourcing that strategy. It is true.
  We have not had--and there is some responsibility with 
administrations of both parties--a coherent strategy that holds 
together and resources that flow from that. We should.
  The fundamental issue is that it is morally wrong to send men and 
women out on missions with our military for which they are not fully 
supported, fully trained, and equipped with the best equipment our 
country can provide. It is wrong for us to do it, and that is exactly 
what has been happening.
  As I mentioned at the beginning, we are not going to turn this around 
in a single bill or a single year, but we can make a start. This bill 
makes a start.
  I will absolutely agree with the gentleman from Washington and others 
that we can't really start to turn this around without an 
appropriations bill that follows it, that matches it, and that really 
does repair our ships and planes, increases our end-strength, and 
provides the training that I believe we deserve to give to the men and 
women who serve.
  Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would just remind everyone that there are 
really two reasons we do this bill. One is that we owe it to the people 
who risk their lives to defend us. Secondly, for the national security 
of the United States.
  The challenges to our Nation's security have grown more ominous in 
recent years, certainly more complex than at any time in our lifetimes. 
This is, I believe, a real opportunity on a bipartisan basis to show 
the troops that we support them and to show adversaries and allies 
alike that the United States is going to stand up and defend ourselves 
by passing this piece of legislation and by following it up with a 
budget agreement and an appropriations bill that follows.
  That is what I think the Constitution requires of us. I hope my 
colleagues will agree and support this conference report.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I am outraged that for the third 
consecutive year, an amendment to create a service medal for our Atomic 
Veterans has been dropped from the NDAA Conference Report. I find this 
particularly shocking as this amendment, which I offered with my 
Republican colleague, Congressman Tom Emmer, was approved by the House 
unanimously by a vote of 424-0.
  It is unclear to me why our colleagues in the Senate are determined 
to deprive our Atomic Veterans this most basic recognition of their 
honorable service.
  Between 1945 and 1962, about 225,000 members of our Armed Forces 
participated in hundreds of nuclear weapons tests. These GIs were 
placed in extremely dangerous areas and were constantly exposed to 
potentially dangerous levels of radiation in performance of their 
duties. They were sworn to secrecy, unable to even talk to their 
doctors about their past exposure to radiation.
  Thankfully, Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush recognized 
the Atomic Veterans' valiant service, and acted to provide specialized 
care and compensation for their harrowing duty.
  In 2007, our allies Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia enacted 
their versions of this amendment by authorizing a medal to honor their 
Atomic Veterans who served with the United States.
  Regrettably, the Pentagon remains silent on honoring the service of 
our Atomic Veterans, arguing that to do so would diminish the service 
of other military personnel who are tasked with dangerous missions. Mr. 
Speaker, this is a pitiful excuse.
  Tragically, more than 75 percent of Atomic Veterans have already 
passed away, never having received this recognition. They served 
honorably and kept a code of silence that most certainly led to many of 
these veterans passing away prematurely.
  Past Administrations and Congresses have dealt with the thornier 
issues of legality and compensation. What remains is recognizing these 
veterans' duty, honor and faithful service to our nation. And time is 
running out.
  I thank my colleagues here in the House for supporting this 
amendment. With their continued support, I hope we can convince the 
Senate or the Pentagon to finally do the right thing, before it's too 
late. We owe it to our veterans to honor them for their selfless 
service to our nation.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Duncan of Tennessee). All time for 
debate has expired.
  Pursuant to House Resolution 616, the previous question is ordered on 
the conference report.
  The question is on the conference report.
  The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
the ayes appeared to have it.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this question will be postponed.

                          ____________________