(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, H.R. 2500, passed the House by a vote of 220-197. This legislation supports our troops with a 3.1% pay increase and an historic tenant bill of rights to protect families in privatized military housing; cuts $17 billion in wasteful spending projects; requires the Department of Defense to address climate change and fund mitigation activities; rejects the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender Americans serving in the military; and increases congressional oversight of the military. It also included an amendment introduced by Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) to prevent a repeat of President Trump's taxpayer-funded Fourth of July military spectacle in 2020.
The final defense authorization bill contained several other provisions championed by Rep. Raskin, including:
- Prohibiting the President from wasting Defense Department resources and taxpayer funds on politicized military spectacles that have nothing to do with official military purposes or customary ceremonial duties. Rep. Raskin’s amendment (#653) passed the House on a 221-207 vote exactly one week after Trump’s unprecedented July 4th spectacle, which has already cost the Defense Department, the District of Columbia, and the National Park Service at least $5.4 million.
- Removing the ban preventing active duty Servicemembers from suing the Department of Defense when they victims of medical malpractice. A 1950 Supreme Court case established the Feres Doctrine that prevents Servicemembers from seeking justice when they are misdiagnosed, mistreated, or subjected to botched surgeries. Rep. Raskin cosponsored a bipartisan amendment (#47) that mirrored legislation he introduced with Congresswoman Speier (H.R. 2422) earlier this year. The amendment was incorporated into H.R. 2500 as a manager’s amendment.
- Providing 12 weeks of paid family leave for federal workers. Rep. Raskin cosponsored a bipartisan amendment introduced by Congresswoman Maloney (#363), which was identical to legislation he cosponsored, H.R. 1534. The amendment was incorporated into H.R. 2500 as a manager's amendment.
- Imposing visa sanctions on the parties found in a report by the Director of National Intelligence to be responsible for the brutal extrajudicial killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Rep. Raskin cosponsored a bipartisan amendment led by Rep. Malinowski (#475) which passed the House unanimously on a voice vote (En Bloc Amendment No. 2). Rep. Raskin also cosponsored similar legislation seeking accountability for the journalist’s murder, H.R. 2037.
- Requiring the State Department Inspector General to examine the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programs intended to protect our Afghan and Iraqi allies, including those who served as interpreters for the U.S. military. There has been a steep decline in visa issuances and reports of interpreters denied entrance to the U.S. without explanation. Rep. Raskin cosponsored a bipartisan amendment (#421) to require this examination and a report to Congress. The amendment was included in an en bloc amendment (No. 2) that passed the House unanimously on a voice vote.
- Prohibiting the President from using military force in Iran without congressional authorization. Rep. Raskin cosponsored a bipartisan amendment (#270) led by Reps. Khanna and Gaetz, which passed the House on a 251-170 vote.
- Requiring a review of former servicemembers who were discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation and requires their discharge characterizations to be changed from dishonorable to honorable. Rep. Raskin cosponsored this bipartisan amendment led by Equality Caucus Co-Chairman Pocan (#41) which passed the House unanimously on a voice vote (En Bloc Amendment No. 17).
- Demanding the State and Defense Departments examine human rights issues with Brazil’s security forces in light of Trump’s recent declaration of Brazil as a “Major Non-NATO Ally”, which means they will be eligible for a range of defense-related assistance, including access to the Excess Defense Articles program. Rep. Raskin cosponsored Rep. Haaland’s amendment (#438) which passed the House with unanimous support on a voice vote (En Bloc Amendment No. 7).
This bill, which Rep. Raskin supported, also includes additional signficant Democratic priorities like creating a more inclusive military, protecting against nuclear catastrophe, and addressing gross human rights violations. The provision providing relief to spouses of fallen soldiers, sponsored by Republican Rep. Joe Wilson, is included as well. This is a bill that all Americans can be proud of and that both parties should have supported resoundingly.