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Engel Statement on Passage of National Defense Authorization Act

Jul 14, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement following the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R.2810) on the House floor:

“Today, the House voted to give our servicemembers the tools they need to protect America's security and advance our interests around the world.

“I'm pleased that four of my amendments were included in the final passage of this legislation.  These amendments will provide reporting on Serbia’s defense relationship with Russia, stronger congressional oversight of changes the Administration makes to policies and legal interpretations that govern security operations, a strategy to improve Nigeria’s defense sector transparency and civilian protection measures during its military operations, and will also require a Department of Defense designee to protect cultural heritage.  This will help the United States counter Russia’s destabilizing activities in the Balkans, guide our use of armed force, ensure accountability for allegations of human rights violations during Nigeria’s operations against armed groups, and protect the world’s treasures from destruction by groups like ISIS. 

“The legislation also included funds supporting Israel’s missile defense funding, which is essential to Israel’s security, considering the threats that Israel faces from Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.  Though the Trump Administration had opposed Overseas Contingency Operations funding for this, it’s been proven time and again that these systems safeguard Israel and its people, and I am pleased to see this funding pass today.

“Congress has the power of the purse, and that’s why we were able to come together to pass this legislation to fund our military and national security priorities abroad despite the Administration’s word.  We must continue working through the appropriations process to ensure that defense spending continues to reflect America's best interests abroad and does not overshadow other important domestic and diplomatic priorities.”

Background:

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R.2810) passed the House today 344-81. Rep. Engel had four amendments that were successfully included in the bill. The amendments include:

  • An amendment requiring a report to Congress on the defense and security relationship between Serbia and Russia;
  • An amendment requiring reporting on changes to previously reported legal and policy frameworks that guide America’s national security operations, which is vital to giving Congress the information needed to conduct oversight over rules and policies that govern United States’ use of military force abroad;
  • An amendment requiring the Secretary of Defense to designate a point person for coordinating the Department’s obligations to protect cultural heritage, building on Rep. Engel’s bill that was signed into law, the Preserve and Protect International Cultural Property Act (H.R.1493); and
  • An amendment requiring a strategy to support improvements by the Nigerian Government in defense sector transparency and civilian protection during Nigeria’s military operations against various armed groups.

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