December 23, 2020

Manchin Statement On President Trump's Self-Serving, Reckless Decision To Veto FY21 NDAA

Charleston, WV – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on President Trump’s unpatriotic decision to veto the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which was passed by Congress earlier this month.

“It is a true shame that President Trump decided to veto the NDAA – putting our servicemembers and their families at immediate risk and denying them a hard-earned pay raise, jeopardizing an expansion of healthcare benefits for our brave Veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals during their selfless service to our nation and hindering our cybersecurity forces as they work to address the recent cyberattacks we’ve experienced. The NDAA has passed with overwhelming bipartisan support every year for the last six decades – providing America and our allies with security and stability. This legislation continually ensures our servicemembers have the equipment and support they need to protect our nation from threats at home and abroad. His selfish decision is recklessly irresponsible plain and simple and I urge my colleagues to join with me to quickly override this veto.”

What’s at stake with President Trump’s veto:

Providing Support for Military Families and Personnel

The FY21 NDAA will strengthen DOD’s response to COVID-19 and continues the work of expanding protections for all federal workers. The bill:

  • Includes an across-the-board 3 percent pay raise for all service members, providing an average increase of $860 to $1,500 per year for enlisted troops.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to develop a strategy for pandemic preparedness and review the military health system’s response to COVID-19. More than 89,000 Department of Defense employees, including 60,000 servicemembers, have already contracted COVID and a more comprehensive strategy is essential to prevent further spread and preserve readiness.
  • Provides transitional health benefits for National Guard members and their families who support the Federal response to COVID-19.
  • Ensures that Paid Parental Leave provisions from last year’s NDAA apply to all Federal government employees and expands anti-discrimination protections for Federal workers.
  • Makes substantive policy improvements to fix the privatized housing crisis for military families and adds over $1.1 billion in additional military construction projects, including multiple child development centers, pier replacements, additional National Guard Readiness Centers, and $25 million for projects to combat the effects of climate change.

Protecting Healthcare for Veterans

The FY21 NDAA also expands access to healthcare for Veterans and their families. The bill:

  • Adds Parkinsonism, bladder cancer, and hypothyrodism to the list of diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange, providing access to benefits to an additional 34,000 Veterans.
  • Authorizes additional VA care for newborn children of Veterans.
  • Requires the DOD IG to audit the medical conditions of servicemembers and their families who have lived in unsafe or unhealthy military housing.

Advancing National Security Priorities

The FY21 NDAA is one of the strongest yet in countering emerging threats and ensuring a robust response to protect American interests.

On China, the bill:

  • Counters the threat posed by China to the U.S. and our allies by establishing the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a new authority for the Department of Defense modeled after the European Deterrence Initiative, and authorizes an additional $150 million in funding.
  • Includes the CHIPS Act, which will support U.S. semiconductor research and manufacturing, and prohibits procurement of covered printed circuit boards (“PCBs”) from China.
  • Provides Section 333 security assistance authority to help our allies build defenses against Chinese cyberattacks and enhance Air Domain Awareness, as well as providing $2.5 million to Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand for a pilot program to help counter Chinese cyberattacks.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to notify Congress prior to basing a major weapons system or additional permanently assigned forces in a host country with network infrastructure provided by at-risk vendors, including Huawei and ZTE.

On other global priorities, the bill:

  • Fully funds the European Deterrence Initiative to strengthen efforts to counter Russian aggression and authorizes $250 million in security assistance to Ukraine. Additionally requires the Secretary of the Treasury to take measures to combat Russian money laundering.
  • Establishes the role of a Senate-confirmed National Cyber Director to coordinate cybersecurity policy and requires DOD to establish a program to train personnel on the threat of foreign malign influence across social media.

To view what’s at stake with President Trump’s veto, please click here