Chairman Cole Hearing Remarks on FY24 NDAA

As prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon. Our military stands as one of the greatest forces for good and freedom across the globe. Their role in America’s security—and the duty of Congress to provide for our common defense—is a constitutional imperative. It’s also why we are here today.

For our defenders to meet their mission, we must meet ours. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024, or NDAA, is critical to that. This authorizing measure is a core pillar of our national defense policy. It guides our Department of Defense and provides direction on the elements necessary to ensure our warfighters are the best manned, equipped, and trained in the world.

This legislation is the culmination of hundreds of hours of work. The efforts put into it are not only defined by an open process, but also one of across the aisle unity. The NDAA has been enacted into law for more than six decades. I am confident that this bipartisanship will continue, and we’ll see the streak extended to sixty-three years.  

The bill before us is certainly a strong one. With a focus on advancing military readiness and ensuring our men and women in uniform are equipped for all threats, it authorizes eight hundred eighty-six point three billion dollars for defense programs. This delivers an increase of twenty-eight billion dollars over fiscal year 2023 while upholding parameters outlined in the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

Importantly, it also includes robust oversight by the House Armed Services Committee. They identified changes that will save Americans more than 40 billion dollars—or 5 percent of current defense spending levels—without sacrificing national security. It’s another clear demonstration of the Republican conference’s ongoing Commitment to America to safeguard our nation and hard-earned tax dollars.

H.R. 2670 also takes on the Biden Administration’s attempts put politics ahead of national security. It rejects moves to indoctrinate our nation’s defense with progressive ideology by prohibiting things like critical race theory training and Green New Deal initiatives. The Pentagon should be laser focused on military readiness and preparedness, not appeasing extreme elements of the far left. 

The steps asserting a strong posture forward don’t end there. Many key priorities of members on both sides of the aisle are fulfilled. It provides the largest pay raise for our troops in over twenty years, includes authorization for retention bonuses for junior enlisted servicemembers, and invests in military families.

It continues the prohibition on taking adverse action against servicemembers who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine and provides a path back to service for servicemembers who were discharged for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

This NDAA also delivers measures to counter aggression from the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing adventurism in Asia and the Pacific, increase oversight of military aid, advance investments in tools to counter emerging threats, and bolster the reliability of our supply chains.

All in all, the policies in this bill are combat multipliers that support a ready, capable, and lethal fighting force.

I’d like to reiterate the efforts made on behalf of our heroes who keep us safe and secure. The House Armed Services Committee produced this measure as part of an open and collaborative process. In all, the Committee considered seven hundred and sixty amendments during markup, and adopted seven hundred and thirty-one of them. This process resulted in an overwhelming fifty-eight to one vote out of the Committee.

It is my expectation that we will continue this collaborative process as we move this measure toward consideration on the floor. I hope and expect that a large number of amendments reflecting ideas from members on both sides of the aisle will receive full and fair consideration on the floor before this measure moves forward to final passage.


Jul 11, 2023