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Donnelly Continues Push for North Korea Strategy in Final Defense Bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly continued his advocacy for a clear, comprehensive strategy from the Administration and the Department of Defense to confront the threat posed by North Korea. His provision is included in the final national defense bill released today. Donnelly helped negotiate the final bill and reconcile differences between versions of the national defense bill passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The reconciled bill, which Donnelly supports, must pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate before it can go to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law. 

In September, the Senate overwhelming passed the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included Donnelly’s amendment requiring the administration to bring to Congress, within 90 days of enactment, a strategy to address North Korea’s threat to our country and our allies. Donnelly spoke on the Senate floor about his amendment. 

Donnelly, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “The security threat posed by North Korea is real and increasing. While the President has spent the week in Asia speaking with leaders from our allies in the region – including South Korea and Japan – we still need the administration to lay out a comprehensive strategy to address the Kim regime’s nuclear weapons. My amendment included in this bipartisan national defense bill would ensure that Congress is able to review and understand the President’s strategy for keeping our country safe.” 

The NDAA is annual legislation that authorizes resources for our military, provides the framework for defense spending, and sets key priorities for the Department of Defense. Resources authorized in the NDAA must then be funded through annual appropriations legislation for the Department of Defense.  

Provisions pushed by Senator Donnelly that were included in the final national defense bill: 

NORTH KOREA, MISSILE DEFENSE, & NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION

  • Strategy Addressing the North Korean Threat: The bill includes Donnelly’s provision that would require the President to bring to Congress, within 90 days of enactment, a strategy addressing the threat posed by North Korea. Donnelly recently spoke on the Senate floor about the amendment.
  • Defending the U.S. from North Korean ICBMs: As Ranking Member of the Strategic Forces subcommittee, which oversees U.S. missile defense systems, Donnelly secured $12.3 billion for the Missile Defense Agency to strengthen homeland and regional missile defense systems that protect the United States, our allies and our troops overseas from missile threats, including North Korean ballistic missiles.
  • Israeli Missile Defense: At Donnelly’s request, the bill would fully fund, at $705 million, U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense programs. These programs are designed to thwart a diverse range of threats, from short-range missiles and rockets fired by non-state actors, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, to mid- and longer-range ballistic missiles in the arsenals of Syria and Iran. Cooperative missile defense is a vital component of our bilateral strategic relationship with Israel and is a high priority in light of threats posed by Iran’s ballistic and cruise missile arsenal and support for terrorist proxies across the Middle East.
  • Non-Proliferation Programs Including Nunn-Lugar: The bill would fully fund the Nunn-Lugar program. The Nunn-Lugar program supports cooperative efforts between the U.S. and foreign allies and partners to counter weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological threats. The program is named after Senator Richard Lugar who helped create it at the end of the Cold War. This is the latest in Donnelly’s success efforts to fund the Nunn-Lugar Program through the national defense bill. 

INDIANA-SPECIFIC ITEMS

  • New Facilities in Indiana: The bill, at Donnelly’s urging, would fully fund a $24 million military construction project at Crane Army Ammunition Activity in Indiana. The bill would also provide an $8 million for a military construction project at Terre Haute Regional Airport, in support of operations of the Indiana National Guard’s 181stIntelligence Wing.
  • Flexibility in Lab Budgets: Also thanks to Donnelly’s efforts, the bill would codify and make permanent authority Donnelly has supported over the past several years to give individual military labs, like NSWC Crane in Indiana, permission to use 2-4% of their annual budget for things like in-house research, transitioning technology innovations to operational use, training and educating laboratory staff and making minor improvements or repairs to their infrastructure and equipment.
  • Expedited Access to University Expertise: The bill would give DoD authority to establish new multi-school partnerships (via contracts, consortia, cooperative agreements or other arrangements) to make it easier and faster for DoD to work with key university partners on topics relevant to military needs. Donnelly has worked with universities across Indiana, including Purdue, Indiana University, Notre Dame to create and strengthen opportunities for DoD to access the knowledge and expertise of their students and faculty. 

SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS

  • Military Pay Raise: The bill would increase servicemember pay by 2.4%.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Treatments: The bill would encourage DoD to use the Food and Drug Administration’s Breakthrough Therapy Designation program to help develop and approve novel drug therapies for PTSD.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury Research: The bill would encourage DoD to continue its collaboration with public and private partners to accelerate the development of pharmaceutical therapies to reverse the effects of TBI.

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 FM WYRZ and WYRZ.org. Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at brian@wyrz.org.

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