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House Armed Services Committee Passes NDAA, Includes Pandemic Response Funding

House Armed Services Committee Passes NDAA, Includes Pandemic Response Funding

Last week, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) passed its version of the FY 21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill would provide $741 billion in funding for the Department of Defense, which is in line with the Senate’s version of the bill passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee late last month. Included in the bill is more than $700 million in nuclear cleanup funding for the Department of Energy (DOE). The NDAA is considered must-pass legislation and it is expected that legislators from both chambers will conference to pass a final bill later this year. The bill also addresses national security concerns related to COVID-19 and creates a Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund, directing $1 billion to efforts to proactively increase the country’s ability to prepare for and respond to future pandemics. It also urges the Department of Defense to include in its bio-engineering roadmap plans to resource and expand its efforts and collaboration with the bio-industrial manufacturing base for defense applications.

The bill will add nearly $600 million in science and technology funding. It also requires one of the Assistant Secretaries to be the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy, whose principal duty would be the overall supervision of policy of the Department of Defense for developing and maintaining the defense industrial base of the United States and ensuring a secure supply of materials critical to national security. Additionally, the bill creates a Small Business Industrial Base Resiliency Program and authorizes the Assistant Secretary of Defense Industrial Base Policy to enter into transactions to purchase or make a commitment to purchase goods or services from small business concerns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill also proposes to maintain the nation’s technological edge by adding over $50 million in funding for investments and efforts in biotechnology and pandemic preparedness.

The bill also establishes an acquisition authority for the Director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence
Center to procure systems and technologies related to Artificial Intelligence (AI) for up to $150 million per year over the Future Year Defense Program.
A conference committee between the House and Senate will be convened to resolve differences between the houses on the NDAA. The conference committee will be convened quickly following the passage of the bills in each chamber and the final FY 2021 NDAA is expected to be completed before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.
ASME will continue to report on the forward movement of the NDAA.

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