WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement after the Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which he helped to write as Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee.
“I am proud to have voted in support of FY23 NDAA, which provides funding that will improve the quality of life for our service members and their families, modernize our vehicles, ships, and aircraft, and ensure that the United States remains a strategic partner for Ukraine as it continues to defend itself against the unjust and unprovoked invasion by Russia. This bipartisan bill authorizes $857.9 billion in national defense spending, including nearly $550 million that will fund military construction projects throughout Maryland. Our state is home to approximately 100,000 active duty servicemembers, as well as 15 installations that support nearly 375,000 jobs and more than $57 billion in economic output. The investments made through the NDAA solidify the critical role that Maryland will continue to play in America’s national defense.”
The NDAA legislation includes:
- $75.5 million for Medical Center Expansion at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
- $37.6 million for construction of a Test Maintenance Fabrication Facility at Aberdeen Proving Ground (including $7.6 million for production and deployment)
- $6 million for construction of a Combustion Laboratory at Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head
- $5.415 million for P&D of a Contained Burn Facility at Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head
- $2.039 million for Explosive Testing Range at Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head
- $1.878 million for renovation of Family Housing Dwellings at Andrews Air Force Base
- $80 million for a Mission Ops and Records Center at the National Security Agency Campus at Ft. Meade
- $318 million for a Recap Building at the National Security Agency Campus at Ft. Meade
- $23.310 million for Reclaimed Water Infrastructure Expansion at Ft. Meade
- Fully authorizes funding for the Coast Guard Yard’s infrastructure needs at Curtis Bay, including major facility upgrades to WWII era structures. This allows the Yard to service new classes of larger and more technologically advanced ships while improving conditions for the workforce. The Yard is the sole government shipbuilding and major repair facility for the Coast Guard.
- Authorizes the DHS Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, which has operated since 2006 at APG. This center carries out important research work, including, for example, opioid detection research central to DHS’s border security mission, and has a 24/7 response capability to help local, state, and federal partners with crises and investigations.
STATE DEPARTMENT AUTHORIZATION
Included in the NDAA is the first comprehensive State Department reauthorization in 16 years. As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee with oversight for State Department operations, Senator Cardin played a key role in drafting provisions that will modernize and prioritize the training and professional development of our diplomats and civilian foreign policy workforce. The Cardin language, developed with Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), will foster a more professional diplomatic corps, with a clear link between required employee training and promotional opportunities and assignments. It establishes a new Board of Visitors of experienced national security and diplomatic professionals that will serve to offer recommendations to improve and modernize the Foreign Service Institute, as well as adding requirements for expanded trainings in press freedom, climate issue and commercial diplomacy – critical issues for engaging with foreign audiences. The authorization creates a financial incentive for diplomats to retain their fluency in critical foreign languages when they move on to other posts (or back to Washington) so that they can quickly be deployed to places where their language skills are essential in emergencies. This brings State into alignment with other national security agencies.
Purposefully moving the State Department beyond “on-the-job training,” the Cardin-Hagerty provisions will also establish an independent legislative commission to examine all aspects of American diplomacy and identify areas for improvement and modernization in the organizational structure, personnel, facilities, and policy of the State Department and make recommendations to the President and Congress.
Senator Cardin: “Modern diplomatic challenges require modern solutions. This bill empowers the State Department to make necessary changes in key areas that will help to revitalize and redefine our diplomatic engagement. Our national security demands that as we continue to recruit and retain the best and brightest to represent America around the world, we must invest in our diplomats and civilian foreign policy workforce throughout their careers and constantly add value to their experiences. With this legislation, we will move the State Department beyond current practices and toward a more robust professional training for these public servants charged with representing the United States around the globe.”
The State Department Authorization Act also includes a Cardin provision that establishes new requirements to extend the “cooling off” period for post-employment restrictions for certain Senate-confirmed officials.
“U.S. foreign policy is not for sale, nor should anyone have reason to think it is,” said Senator Cardin. “By extending the cooling off period from one to three years, these high-ranking individuals are barred from representing foreign governments before the U.S. government for a longer period. In doing so, we lessen the risk of perception that Ambassadors and other high-ranking officials will lose sight of U.S. interests in favor of their own near term financial gain. Again, this important Congressional oversight is yet another important step to safeguard the integrity of our foreign policy.”
Also included in the legislative package cleared by the Senate is the Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act – the BURMA Act. This provision, with broad bicameral support, calls on the administration to do more at the United Nations to hold the Burmese military accountable for its actions, promotes democracy and imposes targeted sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for human rights abuses. The language specifically supports reporting on accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide perpetrated against the Rohingya in Burma.
Senator Cardin: “I am proud of our work in this body to hold accountable authoritarian government regimes across the world. For too long, we have seen democratic backsliding, rising corruption and human rights abuses committed at a global scale. There is perhaps no better example than in Burma, where the military initiated an illegal and unjustifiable coup d’état in February 2021. During and following the coup, the Burmese military has engaged in despicable human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and wrongful imprisonment. The military-led government has imprisoned over 11,000 civilians and killed over 1,400, including children. This amounts to crimes against humanity.
“We cannot look the other way in the face of these grave injustices. That is why I was proud to introduce, alongside my House colleagues Representatives Meeks and Chabot, the Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act,” Senator Cardin added. “This important bill will authorize the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to support democracy activists, provide humanitarian assistance, and undertake reconciliation efforts in Burma. The United States must continue to stand with the people of Burma and for a civilian-led government based on the recognition of human rights and democratic principles.”
WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT
Speaking about WRDA, which was the base legislation passed by the Senate Thursday, Senator Cardin said: “This year’s Water Resources Development Act adds another win for Maryland and the country to a remarkably productive Congress. Our bipartisan bill supports supply chains, takes climate change seriously, and expands Army Corps assistance for disadvantaged communities. It also provides new opportunities for maintenance dredging for small harbors such as those in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. WRDA 2022 will deliver real benefits in Maryland and across the country, and I look forward to its enactment and implementation.”