Senate Armed Services Committee Passes FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Jun 26, 2020

by ASME.org

Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill includes $740.5 billion in national security spending and authorizes more than $300 million above the President’s budget request for the Department of Defense (DOD) Science and Technology research and extends or adds authorities that accelerates research. In a summary of the bill the Committee shares its focus on building a resilient national security innovation base by implementing recommendations from the DOD’s report proceeding from Executive Order 13806 on Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States. Additionally, the bill directs the DOD to seek technology to destroy toxic PFAS “forever” chemicals that have polluted military bases.
 
The Committee’s summary also includes a section on “Maintaining Our Technological Advantage” that focuses on the need to develop more advanced technologies than competitor nations. The Committee specifically encourages DOD to leverage commercially available technology for artificial intelligence (AI) and supports the development of 5G wireless networks by establishing a cross functional team for 5G wireless networks. There is also a focus in line with the Administration’s agenda on strengthening science and technology in emerging technologies, which includes requiring an assessment of U.S. efforts to develop biotechnologies compared to our adversaries; development of AI use-cases for reform efforts; enhancements to the quantum information science research and development program; and a demonstration of innovative 5G commercial technologies.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has filed cloture which limits debate on the motion to proceed on the bill so that the bill may be voted on by the full Senate. 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.
 
For more information, please reference the Committee’s press release, the text of the bill, bill summary, and funding tables.

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