Crow Votes to Pass NDAA Through Committee, Delivers Wins for Colorado; Address Climate Security and Biodefense
On late Wednesday night, following over 14 hours of debate, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) including key priorities for Colorado advocated by Rep. Jason Crow (CO-06). The final bill passed the Committee by a vote of 56-0. HASC is responsible for passing the NDAA which authorizes the Department of Defense policies and funding each year.
“When I was in Iraq and Afghanistan, I was on the receiving end of decisions made in Congress. It’s why there were times I drove around in unarmored SUVs instead of military vehicles, and it’s why today I know exactly who I’m fighting for - the men and women overseas who don’t have a say about the process in Washington,” said Crow. “It remains a privilege and an honor to fight for our soldiers, advocate for Colorado’s priorities, and ensure we continue to assess and prepare for the new threats of today including climate change and biodefense.”
Crow’s amendments, bills, and provisions secured in the passage of the NDAA would help advance Colorado priorities, including:
Protecting Our Climate Security
- DOD WATER Act - Following conflicting reports from the Department of Defense on the impact of water scarcity on military bases due to warming temperatures, Crow, joined by Lamborn (R-CO) and Torres Small (D-NM), introduced a bill that would require the Secretary of Defense to improve data collection and create a recurring water scarcity assessment at at-risk military installations, such as bases like Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora.
- Climate change roadmap - Crow joined IETC Chairman Jim Langevin in offering an amendment requiring DOD to update their climate change roadmap by February 1, 2022.
- Wind energy clearinghouse: With Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), this amendment strengthens the DOD clearinghouse process for evaluating the impact of wind energy projects on military installations.
- Resilience funding and report: An increase in funding of $2 million for the Military Energy Resilience Catalyst Program and requests a brief within 90 days on initiatives that integrate existing utility and energy authorities to support installation resilience projects to upgrade infrastructure, deploy emerging technologies, and strengthen mission assurance.
Ensuring Oversight & Transparency
- Afghanistan Partnership and Transparency Act - Crow’s amendment, offered with Liz Cheney (R-WY), required the Administration to engage with Congress on any effort to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The amendment requires a comprehensive interagency report detailing that the withdrawal will not, among other things, impede our counterterrorism mission or endanger our national security. It also requires the Administration to inform Congress of any efforts by other countries to impose bounties on U.S. service members, akin to those reportedly offered by Russia. The amendment passed by a bipartisan 45-11 margin. The bill comes as reports circulate that the Trump administration has begun working with the Pentagon on possible options for withdrawal ahead of the timeline laid out in the February 29th peace agreement.
- Topline troop numbers: This provision, co-led with Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), demands transparency by restricting 25% of travel funds for the Office of the Secretary of Defense until DOD complies with established law requiring them to make troop deployment numbers available to the general public and Congress. You can read about the provision in an op-ed by Crow and Porter here.
- Improving Pandemic Preparedness: This amendment, which grew out of a bipartisan bill introduced by Crow and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), improves pandemic preparedness by requiring federal agencies to develop a biodefense budget submission for inclusion in the President’s budget so Congress and the general public can know what resources are needed in order to carry out the National Biodefense Strategy.
Standing Up for Our Colorado Military Communities & Service Members
- Protecting American Space Assets Act - Crow led the amendment to adopt the bill he introduced alongside Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Cheney (R-WY), Turner (R-OH), Mike Rogers (R-AL), and Cheri Bustos (D-IL) that directs the President to develop and maintain a comprehensive national space strategy, secure government and commercial space assets, and ensure that the U.S. remains at the forefront of space operations.
- Defense Community Investment Act - This bill, led by Crow (D-CO) and Lamborn (R-CO), will codify the Office of Economic Adjustment to protect it from DOD budget cuts. This office helps bridge the gap between defense communities, such as Aurora, and the military and support efforts around sustainability, readiness, and resiliency.
- DCIP clarification: Clarifies that projects eligible for assistance enhance installation resilience and enhance military family quality of life. It also allows flexibility to reduce or waive cost-sharing entirely, in order to ensure projects can proceed if they are in the national interest regardless of a community’s ability to provide matching funds.
- Access to voting materials for Servicemembers - Crow co-led an amendment with Rep. Turner (R-OH) that directs the Secretary of Defense to ensure that active duty servicemen and women serving at diplomatic missions receive express mail labels for their absentee ballots, as those serving on military installations already do.
- Report on Accelerating Payments to Small Businesses - Co-led with Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), the amendment requires the Department of Defense to report on the timeliness of accelerated payments made to small businesses. This amendment comes at a particularly important time as many small businesses grapple with the financial impact of COVID-19.
Other Priority Toplines
- $741 billion for FY 2021 to fund the military and related agencies, including a 3% service-wide pay-raise for troops.
- Directs DOD to remove confederate names from bases within one year and bans the confederate battle flag from all DOD sites.
- Limits the President's proposed troop withdrawal from Germany
- Bars logistical support for the Saudi-led coalition against Houthis in Yemen.
- Strong PFAS provisions, including a requirement that DOD treat PFOS and PFOA as hazardous substances under CERCLA when cleaning up contamination at defense facilities and a requirement that service members be tested for exposure periodically.
- $25 million increase for the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative.
- $50 million for the Defense Community Infrastructure Program.
- Establishes a 4-year pilot program at the Military Service Academies to address prevailing sexual assaults and other special victims’ offenses
Crow is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, where he serves on the Subcommittee on Readiness and as a Member of the Subcommittee on Readiness and Emerging Threats and Capabilities. Prior to serving in Congress, Crow served in three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division and 75th Rangers Regiment.