Durbin Urges Colleagues To Pass The Bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act

While many Durbin-led provisions are included, the Senator slammed the MAGA extremist priorities included in the House-passed NDAA

WASHINGTON  In a speech on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) urged his colleagues to pass the Senate’s bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24).  The Senate NDAA authorizes nearly $886 billion for the nation’s defense and includes a five percent pay raise for our troops and the Pentagon’s civilian workforce—the largest increase in decades.  The bill also expands employment opportunities for military spouses, funding for child care, and improved military housing.  It will ensure that our nation can ward off threats from China and North Korea—with strong investments in the Pacific Deterrence Initiative; it will address shortfalls in recruitment and improve our cyber defense capabilities; and it provides military aid to Ukraine amid Putin’s unprovoked war.  During his speech, Durbin also commented on the many provisions he championed in the bill that will help Illinoisans, including robust funding for military construction projects in the State. 

“And in addition to funding our nation’s long-term priorities, this package also will provide military aid to our friends in Ukraine and our allies throughout Europe, including the Baltics.  Nearly 18 months after Putin began his full-scale invasion, Ukraine remains on the frontlines of democracy.  And as I saw recently in Vilnius, during this year’s NATO summit, the Ukrainian people’s heroism continues to rally the western alliance.  Today, NATO is stronger than ever.  And the U.S. must continue to do everything in our power to maintain the strength and unity of this alliance,” said Durbin, Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus.  

During his speech, Durbin condemned the House-passed NDAA, which included many MAGA Republican provisions that will hurt our country.  House Republicans also tried to include an amendment that would block the U.S.’ support for Ukraine.  It failed, although 89 Republicans voted in favor of it.

Durbin continued, “Ultimately, they [House Republicans] passed a bill that would abandon our service members—along with our allies—and jeopardize our national security in a new age of threats.  The bill passed would eliminate access to reproductive health care for service members, politicize school textbooks, and undermine progress addressing the climate crisis amid record-breaking heat… So MAGA Republicans in the House want to rip away the basic freedoms of every American—particularly those who defend our freedom.  They have hijacked a bipartisan process to pursue an extremist agenda.”

Durbin also highlighted Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) move to block hundreds of military nominations to advance that same, extremist agenda.

“I hope more and more Republican senators will speak out against their colleague and what he's doing to our military.  It endangers our national security and it shows great disrespect [to the] men and women who deserve our highest level of respect.  As my colleague from Illinois, Senator Duckworth, has pointed out—this partisan charade by one Senator from Alabama has already had a direct impact on our military readiness.  For the first time in 100 years, the Marine Corps is without a Senate-confirmed leader… And very soon, the Army, Navy, and Joint Chiefs will be in a similar position if the Senator from Alabama does not lift his hold.  So to my Republican colleagues who dare come to the Senate floor and question President Biden and the Democratic Party’s commitment to our national security, I say: take a look in the political mirror,” Durbin continued.

Durbin also condemned a provision that once again extends for another year unnecessary restrictions on transferring detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.  Durbin has continuously called for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.  Durbin also highlighted questionable provisions based on false concerns regarding diversity and inclusion in our armed forces—provisions that will ultimately impair, not improve, our military readiness and recruitment.  

Durbin then spoke on several of his amendments that he hopes will be considered, including those that would hold accountable perpetrators of heinous atrocities in Ukraine and elsewhere by criminalizing crimes against humanity, strengthen public transparency on the impact of lethal strikes, push the Pentagon toward technologies of the future such as electric vehicles, address the troubling human rights record of countries such as Egypt, and more.

“Lastly, I hope that any increase in defense spending is matched by a similar increase in non-defense discretionary spending to keep parity.  Because the reality is: while it is important to provide robust funding for national security, it is equally important to invest in America—schools, roads, hospitals, and beyond.  Simply put: our strength at home projects strength abroad.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on all of these issues before we leave for the August recess,” Durbin concluded. 

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here. 

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.