Durbin Statement On Senate Passage Of NDAA

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, today released the following statement after voting for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included a Durbin amendment to speed up the long process that the U.S. Department of Defense has for developing and fielding new weapons systems, as well as proposals to extend lease authorities at Arsenal’s, and a streamlining of the honorary promotion review process. 

“The Senate’s swift passage of the NDAA shows that we are all committed to a strong national defense and to the protection of our men and women in uniform.  I’m also pleased that the NDAA incorporates a reform I proposed to speed up the process that the Pentagon goes through to develop and field new weapons systems. 

“I also appreciate the extension of Arsenal lease authorities to continue to allow private tenants to work closely on base, and a simplification of a foolishly complex process to ensure that our veterans receive their due honorary promotions, including for Illinois families who raised these problems with me. 

“However, I believe it is critical that the Senate pass a bipartisan measure that I’m proud to cosponsor, which makes clear that Congress has not given the Executive Branch any authority whatsoever to go to war against Iran.  Our constitution delegates that power only to the Congress.  These matters of war and peace demand the Senate’s attention and I urge my colleagues to require Congressional action before any offensive action in Iran.”  

Durbin is a cosponsor of a bipartisan amendment to the FY20 NDAA, which would prohibit funds from being used for military operations against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.  A vote on this measure is expected in the Senate this week.

At a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing this year, Dr. Michael Griffin, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, noted that the most advanced aircraft ever built—the SR-71 Blackbird—was designed, built, and flown in less time than it takes some parts of the Pentagon these days to decide what to do next.  Dr. Griffin’s comments made it clear that the Pentagon cannot make timely decisions on new weapons systems and deliver them in reasonable timeframes.  Durbin’s amendment included in the FY20 NDAA aims to reform and speed up this process.

Durbin also included measures in the FY20 NDAA to extend lease authorities for depots and arsenals, such as Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois, and on the honorary promotion of Tuskegee Airman Colonel Charles McGee.