WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after Congress approved the conference report to accompany the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
“As our foreign adversaries continue to challenge our military and cyber readiness, today’s bipartisan legislation authorizes necessary resources, provides policy direction to bolster our nation’s defenses, and supports several important initiatives that are critical to Virginia’s defense industry.
“I have long advocated for Congress to address the outdated security clearance process and the 700,000-person investigation backlog that undermines our ability to maintain a skilled workforce equipped to access the nation’s secrets. That is why I’m proud that this defense bill includes needed changes to help modernize and streamline the outdated security clearance process.
“I also support numerous provisions included in the legislation that will push the Administration to establish a proactive cyber defense strategy as part of our national security posture. After the unprecedented attack on our elections in 2016, we must bolster our cyber defenses and deter our adversaries from attacking us. Part of that strategy must also include developing a skilled cyber workforce. That is why I’m proud that the bill includes my cyber scholarship amendment to help attract a diverse pool of candidates to strengthen our cyber readiness.
“This defense bill provides important support for our men and women in uniform and authorizes a 2.6 percent pay raise for servicemembers. The legislation also authorizes $7.14 billion for two new Virginia-class submarines and $1.59 billion for a Ford-class carrier, all of which are essential to maintaining our nation’s security and support thousands of Virginia jobs. In addition, the legislation authorizes more than $174 million for 12 military construction projects across the Commonwealth.
“However, I remain extremely frustrated that this compromise bill did not include our bipartisan amendment to reinstate the ban on Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, which had passed the Senate 85-10. ZTE was prohibited from buying U.S. parts in response to numerous violations of U.S. export controls and sanctions laws. As a state-backed enterprise that is ultimately loyal to the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese government, it poses a clear threat to the national security, people, and economy of the United States. When Congress returns to Washington, I will be working with my colleagues on a new legislative path forward to protect our national security and restore the ban on ZTE.”