Today, Congressman Jim Bridenstine voted for the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The NDAA conference report reconciles differences in the House and Senate versions passed earlier this year. NDAA is a bipartisan bill that authorizes funding for America’s armed forces and sets Department of Defense policy. Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act 55 years in a row.
The NDAA conference report includes a number of critical provisions:
- Pay raise for the troops above the President’s request
- Additional funding to stop the drawdown in Army soldiers and Marines
- Expanded care at military hospitals
The NDAA conference report rejects a number of controversial policy changes in the Senate NDAA including:
- Requiring women to register with Selective Service
- Cuts to housing allowance (including dual military families)
The NDAA conference report includes several provisions from Rep. Bridenstine’s American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA). In April 2016, Congressman Bridenstine introduced ASRA, groundbreaking legislation to enact bold reforms across military, civil, and commercial space sectors. NDAA is the first step in Bridenstine’s strategy to enact ASRA piece-by-piece using different legislative vehicles. The conference report includes ten ASRA provisions, including:
- Section 1605 – Modifies the terms of the Satellite Communications (SATCOM) Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) to ensure DOD uses accurate cost estimates and fully considers commercial SATCOM technologies. The Pentagon uses AoAs to help select new weapons systems to replace old programs. DOD will start the SATCOM AoA shortly to help choose a successor system to the current Wideband Global SATCOM satellite constellation, which provides long-distance communications capabilities to our warfighter.
- Section 1606 – Redirects funding to jump start a pilot program to test next-generation SATCOM technologies. Private sector SATCOM companies are offering leap-ahead capacity for commercial customers. The Department of Defense should take advantage of this.
- Section 1613 – Establishes a pilot program for the Air Force to buy, test, and evaluate commercial weather data. Utilizing data provided by innovative private sector weather companies can lower costs to taxpayers, produce better weather products for the warfighter, and complicate the targeting solutions of our enemies by distributing space architectures.