Senator welcomes passage of national security provisions, but says bill comes up short on human rights, corruption, small business
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today released the following statement on the Senate passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“The passage of the NDAA is a critical step to safeguarding America’s national security and military personnel. After weeks of needless delays by my Republican colleagues, I am pleased to announce that we have managed to pass a bill that addresses many of our national defense priorities.
“In addition to providing authorization for the pay and training of our military men and women, I am heartened that the NDAA includes an amendment that I co-authored with Senator Van Hollen to compel the Army to take a closer look at the reasons behind chronic delays in tuition assistance payments for Army personnel through the IgnitED program. The problems with this program have forced active duty personnel to pay out-of-pocket and then wait for an unknown amount of time for the Army to reimburse them so they can attend classes. Or it forces colleges and universities to incur debts without knowing when they will be paid back by the Army. Maryland institutions repeatedly have raised concerns about this program and I look forward to a thorough review and swift action to correct these shortcomings following this bill’s passage.
“As a legislative cornerstone of our national security, however, the NDAA could have done much more to advance global human rights and anti-corruption measures, and the failure to include important small business provisions will hurt Maryland companies and others nationwide. Republican objections to the inclusion of anti-corruption provisions and the permanent re-authorization of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act – incredibly effective measures to advance America’s priorities abroad – represent serious missed opportunities. And as Maryland’s state economy thrives on innovation, I am deeply disappointed that the bill does not reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, which are critical for small businesses that participate in federally funded research and development. Reauthorizing these important programs will be a top priority in the coming year.
“While we have failed to recognize the full potential of the NDAA, I will continue fighting to advance global human rights, anti-corruption initiatives, and America’s small businesses – as they make us stronger as a nation.”