December 11, 2020

Senate Passes Several Duckworth Provisions as Part of 2021 Defense Bill

Duckworth’s provisions will help support military personnel and their families, strengthen transportation infrastructure and logistics systems and focus DoD attention on the importance of Southeast Asia


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a Purple Heart recipient and member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, highlighted several key priorities she authored and successfully included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed the U.S. Senate on a bipartisan, veto-proof vote of 84-13 today. The U.S. House of Representatives also passed this bill by a veto-proof vote of 335-78, and it now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law or vetoed. The NDAA authorizes funding for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), sets our nation’s defense policy and ensures that our servicemembers have the tools they need to defend our nation. Duckworth’s priorities in the Senate-passed version of the FY2021 NDAA include provisions to make sure our female servicemembers are properly equipped for combat, bolster transportation infrastructure and logistics systems, accelerate rotary wing modernization efforts and invest more DoD resources into emerging regions like Southeast Asia. The Senate-passed NDAA also includes a 3% pay raise for our troops.

“The brave men and women in uniform who are deployed across the globe deserve to know that our country stands behind them as they risk their lives to defend our country and our Constitution—especially during volatile times like these when their fellow servicemembers are being so blatantly politicized by their own Commander in Chief,” Duckworth said. “Though I do not support several of this bill’s provisions, I’m proud that a well-deserved pay raise for our troops and several of my provisions were included in this compromise to support our servicemembers and military families, enhance our military’s transportation and logistics systems and invest in emerging regions like Southeast Asia. I’m also pleased that the Senate included Senator Warren’s amendment to help our nation heal by removing all Confederate monuments from DoD assets. By passing this bipartisan NDAA, Congress is sending a message to President Trump that we have our troops’ backs despite his veto threats, and I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this critical legislation.”

Duckworth was one of the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring from military service in 2014 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. She served on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) during her four years serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she authored numerous provisions aimed at improving servicemember quality of life, reducing government waste and promoting job creation. Last year, Duckworth also authored several amendments that were included in the FY2020 NDAA to help protect servicemembers from toxic chemicals, support Illinois jobs and shield Veterans from deportation.

Key Duckworth provisions included in this year’s NDAA will:

  • Strengthen Transportation Infrastructure and Logistics Systems:
    • A Duckworth-authored provision would require DoD to begin research and development of advanced technologies that support water sustainment with technologies that capture ambient humidity and harvest, recycle and reuse water to help develop water systems that reduce weight and logistics support, including with modular and trailer mounted systems.
    • A Duckworth-authored provision would direct the Comptroller General to submit a report on the Department’s progress in reaching net zero goals within one year of enactment of the act. It will include lessons learned from its Net Zero Initiative Pilot Program.
    • Permanently authorizes EUCOM to engage in their multilateral Surface Exchange of Services (SEOS) exchange of transportation services with European Allies.
    • Permanently authorizes EUCOM to engage in their multilateral Air Transport and Air-to-Air Refueling and other Exchange of Services (ATARES) exchange of transportation services with European allies.
  • Accelerate Rotary Wing Modernization:
    • Duckworth championed an increase to Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) funding for advanced development of the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) by $5 million.
  • Better Support Military Personnel, Families and Retirees:
    • A Duckworth-authored provision to make it easier for DoD and the National Guard to begin clean-up of PFAS based on the drinking water standards set in each state, providing states and DoD the flexibility they need to create an action plan.
    • A Duckworth-authored amendment to include her Equality in Leadership and Inclusion in Top Elements (ELITE) Act, which would require an independent study identifying barriers to minority participation in the military’s accession, assessment and training process. The study will also include recommendations to increase minority participation in special operations units and in the officer corps of our Armed Forces.
    • A provision authored by Senator Ernst and Senator Duckworth to include the Ernst-Duckworth Female Body Armor Modernization Act, which would ensure proper-fitting body armor and protective equipment is available for female Servicemembers.
      • “When I was serving overseas, I experienced firsthand how our military’s body armor and protective equipment hasn’t always been constructed with the health and comfort of female servicemembers in mind,” Duckworth said regarding this provision. “That’s one reason why I’m proud my bill to enhance troop readiness by helping make sure our female servicemembers are properly equipped for combat was included this bill, and I look forward to it becoming law.
    • A provision based on an amendment authored by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and cosponsored by Senator Duckworth to direct the removal of all confederate names, symbols, monuments, displays and paraphernalia from DoD assets, including installations within three years of enactment. Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to veto this critical defense legislation if it includes this provision and does not repeal Section 230, leading Senator Duckworth to issue the following statement:
      • “It’s bad enough that Trump threatened to veto a pay raise for our troops in order to protect the legacies of Confederate traitors, but to threaten our troops to achieve completely unrelated policy issues is wrong,” Duckworth said. “By putting himself, his fragile ego and his political interests first, it shows—yet again—that he doesn’t really care about our troops or our national security.”
    • A Duckworth-authored provision to require the Secretary of Defense to standardize policy across DoD installations for dangerous animal regulations to be consistent with professional veterinary expertise.
  • Focus DoD Attention on the Importance of Southeast Asia:
    • A Duckworth-authored provision would establish a pilot program to improve cyber cooperation with Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.
  • Other Duckworth priorities that were included:
    • A Duckworth-authored provision that directs the Army to deliver a briefing no later than March 1, 2021, on the Army's comprehensive cannon modernization strategy and a status update on the mobile howitzer evaluation.
    • A provision that includes language Duckworth advocated for urging the government to clear the backlog in processing Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for our Afghan allies and emphasizes that additional visas should be made available for those eligible under the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009.
    • A Duckworth-authored amendment that would enable the Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau to have a voice as an advisor to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council.
  • Duckworth provisions that were included in the Senate version of the NDAA report, but did not go to conference:
    • A Duckworth-authored provision would require a report on lessons learned from employing open systems architecture in the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program to capitalize on the benefits of this approach and ensure continued efficacy as the program progresses.
    • A Duckworth-authored provision would encourage DoD to increase exchange programs for South East Asian nations at the U.S. Military Academy, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, Merchant Marine Academies, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs and other educational institutions affiliated with the military.
    • A Duckworth-authored provision would direct the Army to deliver a briefing no later than December 31, 2020, on the feasibility of establishing a pilot program at Joint Munitions Command for the sustainment of munitions as part of the overall life-cycle management of munitions programs.
    • A Duckworth-authored provision to recommend DoD develop clear guidance on how it plans to comply with the 21st Century IDEA Act, specifically focusing on modernizing and enhancing the use of intranets, websites and forms.
    • A Duckworth-authored provision would direct the Army to provide a briefing to the SASC no later than March 1, 2021, detailing how the Army intends to meet the goal of recapitalizing 48 UH-60 Black Hawks per year and identifying opportunities to accelerate UH-60V Black Hawk Conversions. This provision emphasizes the Committee's support for the Army's plan to field UH-60V Black Hawks across all components in order to maintain fleet and mission parity.
    • A Duckworth-authored amendment to press TRANSCOM to take serious steps to prepare for Great Power Competition and demonstrate how its activities align with the National Defense Strategy.