WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Co-Chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, today praised the Senate’s 83-11 passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023. With rising threats from Russia, China, and other adversaries, the annual bipartisan defense bill contains King-led provisions to modernize America’s nuclear defenses, better assess the “will to fight” of allies and enemies, and improve international cyberdefenses. The bill also includes increased support for Ukraine as it fights Russia’s illegal, unprovoked invasion along with improvements to ensure the aid receives proper oversight and does not dangerously deplete America’s own stockpiles.
King also worked to secure provisions to better support the wellbeing of America’s servicemembers. With military suicide rates at an all-time high, the bill requires the Department of Defense to study and release data on suicides by military occupation, and the Government Accountability Office to study how to improve the transition from military to civilian life.
“This year’s National Defense Authorization Act – named after my friend and colleague Senator Jim Inhofe – is a bipartisan bill that will meet the pressing 21st century national security challenges facing our country,” said Senator King. “As threats from adversaries like Russia and China grow, the legislation is absolutely essential to ensure America does not fall behind. Along with new authorizations to address Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, this bill improves our defensive and offensive hypersonic capabilities, bolsters key cyberdefenses, and will help modernize how we assess the capabilities of our enemies and allies alike. Without these provisions, the credibility of America’s bedrock principle of peace through deterrence would have been put at risk.
“All told, Congress and the Armed Services Committees have once again produced an important, strong, and bipartisan bill,” continued Senator King. “Most importantly, the legislation makes significant investments in the essential core of our Armed Forces – our brave men and women in uniform. Along with a 4.6% pay raise to help servicemembers keep up with rising costs of living, the NDAA will study the suicide epidemic in our military so the Department is better equipped to address this urgent crisis. Today’s overwhelming 83-11 passage of the bill is a testament to the importance of this effort, the selfless service of our Armed Forces, and the dedication of all the Americans who are working to protect our nation.”
The James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 includes King-backed provisions to:
- COUNTER RUSSIAN AGGRESSION AND SUPPORT UKRAINE. With Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine in its tenth month, the legislation extends and modifies the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) and authorizes $800 million in fiscal year 2023 to provide security assistance to Ukraine via this authority. The bill included King-backed directive for a Government Accountability Office audit the allocation and use of security assistance to Ukraine.
- BOLSTER AMERICAN ALLIANCES AND STRENGTHEN DIPLOMACY. On the heels of Russia’s aggression and a strong unified response from NATO partners, the legislation includes steps to strengthen existing U.S. alliances and partnerships, build mutually beneficial new partnerships, and leverage opportunities in international cooperation to ensure U.S. success in competition against other great powers. The bill requires an assessment of the required force posture, engagements, and resourcing needed to implement the National Defense Strategy in Europe and uphold U.S. commitments to NATO. It also authorizes the full fiscal year 2023 budget request for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI).
- MODERNIZE CRITICAL NUCLEAR DETERRENTS. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Senator King is a Congressional leader in working to modernize the nation’s nuclear triad and address the threats posed by new hypersonic weapons.
- STRENGTHEN HYPERSONIC PROGRAMS. The FY23 NDAA includes recommended approaches the Defense Department should take towards improving offensive and defensive hypersonic capabilities, along with more than $200M to counter these threats.
- ASSESS THE “WILL TO FIGHT.” After intelligence assessments miscalculated the ability and commitment of forces on the ground in Afghanistan and Ukraine, Senator King has urged the national security community to improve how they assess “will to fight” – one of the most important pieces of information about the strength of our allies and adversaries. The FY23 NDAA directs the DOD to report on its capacity to actively assess adversaries' capacity to conduct military and logistics operations.
- STREGTHEN CYBERSECURITY PROTECTIONS. The bill strengthens and supports the DOD’s cybersecurity programs, the defense industrial base, and America’s critical infrastructure. Among the cyber policies passed by this legislation are King-backed provisions to establish a Bureau of International Cyberspace Policy, increase support for U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), and for CYBERCOM to release biennial, unclassified reports through the 2032 election cycle on their efforts to ensure election security and counter election threats. As Co-Chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, Senator King has navigated Congressional efforts to unify and strengthen America’s cyberdefenses against 21st century threats.
- CRACKDOWN ON PUTIN'S GOLD. As sanctions continue to put pressure on Vladimir Putin, the bill includes King-led legislation to crack down on Russia’s massive gold supplies. Sanctioning these reserves will further isolate the country and eliminate one of the few remaining asserts the dictator has to bankroll his bloody invasion.
- CONFRONT SERVICEMEMBER SUICIDE. As the epidemic of servicemember and veteran suicide continues, the bill requires a review and report on the rates of suicides in the Armed Forces by military occupational specialty during the time period beginning after September 11, 2001, and continuing to the present day, broken down by military occupational specialty, service, and grade. This legislative provision is based on input from a Maine Constituent.
- IMPROVE THE TRANSITION TO CIVILIAN LIFE. Senator King has repeatedly called on the Department of Defense to do a better job helping servicemembers transition to civilian life. The bill requires the Government Accountability Office to study how the Pentagon can improve the transition and prevent tragedies like suicides shortly after separation.
- ADDRESS THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC BY FIGHTING DRUG TRAFFICKERS. Senator King has consistently urged the Pentagon to step up in the war on drugs, by taking a more active role in stopping drugs from entering the country. The bill increases funding for the military’s counter narcotics missions. The bill also includes a GAO audit of the Department of Defense’s Counterdrug efforts that includes the organization, cross-agency efficiencies, and audit of the use of funds to improve the Department’s ability to stop drug shipments before they reach America’s shores. The bill provides important oversight on U.S. NORTHERN Command, requiring a report on their efforts to support this important mission.
- PROMOTE SMALL BUSINESS INTEGRATION. Across the country, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) help small business get and navigate Department of Defense contracts. In addition to securing additional funds, the bill included legislation based on valuable input from Mr. Ken Bloch of Eastern Maine Development Corporation (EMDC) and the Director of Maine PTAC. This resulted in legislative changes that would enable these centers to better serve small businesses by increasing the state funding cap and align the program under the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
- IMPROVE AMERICA’S PRESENCE IN THE ARCTIC. With climate change opening the waters of the Arctic, the bill authorizes $167.2 million to continue acquisition of a third Polar Security Cutter Ice Breaker, along with $1 million to establish the Arctic Security Cutter program office to support the future of maritime commerce, climate research and environmental protection in the High North. The bill includes King-backed provision requiring the Office of Management and Budget to conduct a crosscut report on Arctic research programs. Additional Arctic reporting includes assessing the ability and timeline to conduct transit in the Northern Sea Route and periodic transits of the Northwest Passage; also, the GAO is directed to conduct an audit of the U.S. Coast Guard arctic operations and infrastructure.
- TACKLE GLOBAL FOOD INSECURITY. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine destabilizes global food supplies, the legislation reauthorizes the nation’s Feed the Future hunger and agriculture initiative through 2028, improves food aid oversight, and requires the Biden administration to develop a whole-of-government strategy to address global food challenges.
- INCREASE DOD TOPLINE TO MEET THE MOST PRESSING NEEDS. In response to the Department of Defense’s rising needs and heightened global security threats, Senator King supported a $45 billion increase to its budget, with half of the funds addressing inflation, and the reminder allocated to the acceleration of implementing the National Defense Strategy. Additional funds were also provided to meet top unfunded requests from military commanders and service chiefs.
- ENSURE AMERICA HAS SUFFICENT RESOURCES FOR DEFENSE AND DETERRENCE. With the United States providing historic levels of lethal aid to Ukraine, the bill includes King-backed provisions to expand the Pentagon’s procurement authorities and require the National Defense Stockpile Manager to submit a briefing to congress on strategic shortfalls.
- PROVIDE THE RESOURCES NEEDED TO OUR INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES. The NDAA includes the Intelligence Authorization Act, which authorizes funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community. These important provisions include an assessment on sanctions imposed on Russia, international cyberspace and digital policy, precursor chemicals used in the production of synthetic opioids.