WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was approved by the Senate 92-7 today “still has many flaws but is important for our national security and the men and women of our armed forces.” Senator Cardin’s comments on passage of the included Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act can be found at this link. He released the following statement on the overall bill, which is now headed to President Obama for signature.
“Congress has sent a clear message to the men and women of our military that we have their backs on the battlefield and when they return home to their families. I’m proud to say that the NDAA invests in our Active duty, National Guard and Reserves and ensures they have the tools and resources needed to carry out their mission. This bill is important for the quality of life of our all-volunteer force and their families through fair compensation, policies and benefits, including first rate health care, and addressing the needs of the wounded, ill, and injured service members. NDAA also streamlines rules for contractors, helping Maryland businesses – large and small – compete on a more level playing field for defense acquisitions and assistance. Maryland is home to over 40,000 active and reserve service members who defend our nation against all enemies foreign and domestic. They deserve the very best we can provide.
“I regret that once again Congress perpetuates the wasteful and unnecessary use of the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, with counterproductive restrictions on the transfer of detainees. GTMO has been a blight on America’s human rights leadership in the world, it continues to be a target for those who wish to harm our citizens. Opponents have ignored the reality that we have a successful track record of prosecuting, convicting and imprisoning the most dangerous terrorists in U.S. courts and prisons. Detainees should be formally charged and tried in civilian or military courts, as appropriate.
“I also continue to be concerned about the expansion of the Department of Defense’s authorities to engage in foreign assistance and security cooperation activities with foreign nations; it is vital that the Secretary of State is able to fulfill his or her longtime role in overseeing all foreign assistance activities of the United States. Wearing hats from both SFRC and the Senate Finance Committee, I am taken aback by the gimmicky use of the Overseas Contingency Operations to fund base operations. And I have previously expressed to President Obama my desire to maintain parity between our military and civilian federal workers.
“Lastly, I am supportive of the provisions that elevate U.S. Cyber Command to its own Combatant Command. We live in a digital world where the online battlefield can be as dangerous as the front lines. America has endured recent cyberattacks from Russia, other state and non-state entities, making the elevation of U.S. Cyber Command timely and essential for protecting our national security. This shift also recognizes the incredible work being done at Fort Meade protecting American citizens and our military worldwide.”