Soto Amendments Pass in Annual House Defense Bill
WASHINTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S House of Representatives passed three amendments introduced by Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09) in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes funds and sets policy for defense-related activities for Fiscal Year 2021. The bipartisan legislation will keep America safe, support U.S. service members with an urgently needed 3% raise, provide Space Force funding and increase protections for sexual assault victims.
“Every year, the NDAA brings us one step further in enhancing the national and economic security of the American people while providing unwavering support for our troops,” said Rep. Soto. “The passage of my amendments will support technological advances impacting Central Florida and ensure the U.S. does not fall behind on research and development. Today and always, I will proudly support a strong national defense that honors our values, protects our citizens and strengthens our leadership in the world.”
The following key provisions authored by Rep. Soto were passed unanimously:
- Blockchain Technology Amendment: Enumerates the elements of an uncompleted briefing from the FY20 NDAA conference report on the potential use of distributed ledger technologies for defense purposes by the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and adds a reporting requirement. The report is to summarize key findings of the briefing, analyze research activities of adversarial countries, make recommendations for additional research and development within the Department and analyze the benefits of consolidating research within a single hub or center of excellence within the Department for distributed ledger technologies.
- Blockchain Technology Amendment: Adds “distributed ledger technologies” to the definition of “emerging technologies” so that it be included in the assessment of what must be done for the United States to maintain their technological edge performed by the newly formed Steering Committee on Emerging Technology and Security Needs.
- Microelectronic Amendment: Adds “advanced sensors manufacturing” to the items considered within the updated approach to ensuring the continued production of cutting-edge microelectronics for national security needs.
The NDAA also:
- Gives Our Troops a Pay Raise & Protects Their Safety: authorizing a 3 percent military pay raise, protecting their health by cleaning up so-called PFAS forever chemicals, investing in housing improvements for military members and families and advancing justice in safety with improvements to sexual assault prevention and response.
- Strengthens America’s Health & Economic Security: with important fixes to expand paid parental leave for certain federal civilian employees inadvertently omitted originally, initiatives to combat the climate crisis, and proactively strengthening our nation’s defenses to future pandemics, including with a $1 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund.
- Responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic: proactively strengthens our nation’s defenses to pandemics including with a $1 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund, boosts America’s industrial base resilience, helps Maritime Security Program carriers keep ships fully crewed during COVID-19, supports NATO’s multinational response to the pandemic and provides funds to the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program with an increased focus on cooperative biological engagement to detect and confront biological threats.
- Provides for Removing the Names of Confederates from Our Military Bases: requiring DOD to identify, report on a process and change the names of all military bases and infrastructure named for individuals who took up arms against America by serving in the Confederacy, with the process to be completed in one year. Also prohibits the public display of the Confederate flag on Department of Defense installations.
- Creates a More Diverse Military: creating a Special Investigator focused on combating racial disparities in the Military Justice System and in personnel policies and practices, establishing Chief Diversity Officers throughout the military and creating initiatives for increasing representation of women and minorities in the military services.
- Advances our Values: prohibiting the use of DOD funds to provide support to the Saudi-led coalition for strikes in Yemen, limiting the funding under the national emergency military construction authority to prevent its misuse on the President’s wasteful border wall, and not containing any restrictions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay.
“The recent murders of George Floyd and Vanessa Guillen have undoubtedly shed light on the need to make systemic changes in our armed forces,” said Rep. Soto. “Today, we stand united with women across our military by voting to improve prevention and response of sexual assault. Additionally, House Democrats voted to prohibit the public display of the Confederate flag on DOD installations and require the Department to begin the process of changing the names of all military bases and infrastructure named after someone who served in the Confederacy. I am honored to meet this moment and make real progress for our men and women in uniform.”