Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, delivered the following opening remarks at the “pass the gavel” ceremony for the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Chairman Rogers’ remarks as prepared for delivery:
I want to start by thanking Chairman Reed, and Ranking Members Smith and Wicker for their tremendous leadership and dedication to working together.
I also want to thank all the Members here today for your hard work and contributions to the House and Senate bills.
I am honored to chair the conference committee on the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act.
And I am very pleased we have returned to regular order and are holding a formal conference.
I commend Chairman Reed and Ranking Member Wicker for getting a bill through the Senate for the first time in two years and for all the work they did to get us into conference.
The NDAA is one of the most consequential bills Congress considers.
All Members should have an opportunity to have their proposals fairly considered.
Regular order guarantees that.
It also sends an important signal to the men and women defending our freedom that Congress can function and will prioritize their needs above all else.
Enacting an NDAA has never been more vital than it is today.
America and our allies face unprecedented and rapidly evolving threats from China.
As well as ongoing threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea, and terrorist organizations throughout the world.
These threats are real.
We all just witnessed terrorists act on their threats against one of our closest allies.
We all pray for Israel as it counters the most vile attack on its people since the Holocaust.
All of these adversaries are aligned in their desire to weaken our allies and end American dominance.
To stay ahead of these threats, DoD comes to Congress each year requesting critical new authorities and changes to existing law.
We take those requests seriously.
We hold dozens of hearings to examine them.
Then we work to improve them and add our own priorities through the committee and floor process in both chambers.
The result is the NDAA.
This year, both the House and Senate NDAAs include critical new authorities to ensure our warfighters have what they need to deter our adversaries and prevail on future battlefields.
Provisions to expedite the delivery of new capabilities to the warfighter and enable the DoD to better partner with innovators in private industry.
Provisions in both bills to revitalize our industrial base, secure our supply chains, and distribute our logistics are vital to ensuring we prevail in conflict with our adversaries, especially China.
Provisions that implement AUKUS and expand military cooperation and expedite weapons transfers to Israel, Taiwan, and other allies and partners are needed now to deter our adversaries.
And important new authorities that increase servicemember pay and allowances and expand benefits available to military families.
These are needed now more than ever as our military families struggle with rising food and housing prices, and our services grapple with a recruitment and retention crisis.
Finally, over 50 percent of our discretionary budget is spent on defense.
The NDAA is the primary tool Congress has to ensure those dollars are spent as the Legislative Branch intended.
I think it’s fair to say that the majority in the House has serious concerns with how this administration is spending those dollars.
As a result, the House bill includes several provisions to require accountability from this administration and to end the woke policies being forced on our servicemembers by left-wing bureaucrats.
Everyone here appreciates that we have a divided government.
That enacting legislation as critical as the NDAA will require compromise.
But compromise means we both have to swallow some things that we may not like.
These oversight and accountability provisions are a priority for the House majority, and we will be fighting very hard to ensure their inclusion in the final conference report.
I am sure the Senate feels equally as passionate about provisions in their bill that we don’t like.
But I am optimistic we will find a reasonable compromise that both chambers can support.
Because what everyone here needs to understand is –
We will enact an NDAA this year.
We will rise above our differences.
And we will put the needs of our servicemembers and our national security before all else.
I look forward to working with all of you to achieve that goal.