Florida’s Senators Look to Add Amendments to the NDAA

With Congress back after the week-long recess for Veterans Day, the two chambers are looking to finalize the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and Florida’s two U.S. senators offered a host of amendments to it this week.

Over the summer, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee passed a $778 billion NDAA, $25 billion higher than what the Biden administration requested.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., serves on the committee and he offered his take on the NDAA on Monday and showcased four amendments he was offering.

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have fought throughout this year to ensure the Fiscal Year 2022 NDAA includes big wins for Florida’s military interests. In the Senate Armed Services Committee, we successfully defeated Joe Biden’s radical efforts to cut the military’s budget and secured critical funding for Tyndall Air Force Base – a strategic hub for the future of F-35 based air warfare – to have the necessary resources to continue this critical mission,” Scott said.

“But the battle for Florida and our military isn’t over yet. With the NDAA now finally being considered on the Senate floor, I am fighting to protect our national security interests by offering amendments to hold Biden accountable for his botched and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan, ban the purchase of drones from our adversaries, and stand with our democratic partner Taiwan against Communist China’s growing aggression. Furthermore, I am fighting to protect Floridians by offering amendments to keep the ban on oil drilling off the coasts of Florida – maintaining vital military readiness capabilities in the Gulf of Mexico – and give the Coast Guard the jurisdiction it needs to bring drug dealers and human traffickers to justice,” Scott added.

“With 20 military bases and three unified commands, Florida is proud of its critical role in America’s national defense. I won’t stop fighting for what matters to our state and to protect and support America’s military. As threats from our enemies grow more dangerous, now is not the time for appeasement or weak leadership. I urge my colleagues to stand with me and support these vitally important amendments,” Scott said in conclusion.

Scott’s office noted that he offered the following amendments:

An amendment to establish a Joint Select Committee on Afghanistan, which would conduct a full investigation and compile a joint report on President Biden’s failed and tragic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan;

The American Security Drone Act, which would ban the U.S. Government from purchasing drones manufactured in countries identified as national security threats, like Iran and Communist China;

The Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which would reinforce the U.S.-Taiwan relationship and strengthen Taiwan’s ability to resist Communist China’s aggressive policies and military actions; and

The Extending Limits of U.S. Customs Waters Act, which would extend customs waters to 24 miles to give the Coast Guard and law enforcement the jurisdiction necessary to keep American families safe from drug and human traffickers.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., offered dozens of amendments with his office highlighting the following ones on Monday:

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. Places importation limits on goods produced using forced labor in China, especially the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and imposes sanctions related to such forced labor.

South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act. Authorizes the President to impose sanctions, including blocking property and visa bans, on broad categories of Chinese individuals who have contributed to China’s illicit reclamation, construction and military activities in disputed areas of the South China Sea, or who are found to be complicit in actions that threaten the peace, security, and stability of areas in the East China Sea administered by Japan or Korea.

New funding for IMET in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Authorizes new funding for International Military Education and Training (IMET), a crucial program for our allies and partners globally.

Report on China’s Belt and Road Initiative in emerging African economies. Requires the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, within 180 days, to prepare a report on China’s use of rules of origin intended to benefit countries eligible for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to ensure AGOA countries obtain the benefit of favorable trade policies and China is not using them to circumvent U.S. trade policies. The report will also include a detailed analysis of the Belt and Road Initiative in the continent of Africa, including Chinese investment into raw materials and natural resources, commodities, telecommunications, emerging technologies, energy, agriculture, and national security related supply chains, and China’s use of resource-backed loans for economic exploitation.

Taiwan Relations Reinforcement Act. Strengthens U.S. cooperation with Taiwan across multiple areas of mutual interest and seeks to update U.S. policy toward Taiwan to better reflect U.S. values and the realities on the ground.

Investment prohibition on Communist Chinese Military Companies. Enhances the authority of the U.S. Department of Defense to expand the list of Communist Chinese military companies subject to investment prohibitions to include Chinese companies sharing common purpose with military objectives and connected to surveillance and research and development.

Limitations on using funds for officials to attend the Beijing Olympics. Prohibits funding for U.S. government officials or military officers from traveling to the PRC to attend the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

CCP’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy. Bans U.S. “covered entities” from directly engaging with — or forming joint ventures to engage with — a “Chinese entity of concern” in any scientific research or technical exchange that has a direct bearing on, or the potential for dual use in, the development of technologies that the Chinese Communist Party has identified as a priority of its national strategy of military-civil fusion.

Preventing foreign influence in U.S. educational institutions. Requires organizations, such as the Chinese government-run Confucius Institutes, to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The amendment also amends the Higher Education Act to require universities to disclose donations, contracts, or gifts from any foreign source amounting to $50,000 or more. Additionally, institutions that have entered into an agreement with a Confucius Institute must disclose the agreement on its website and to the Department of Education or risk losing their Student and Exchange Visitor Program. Amendment based on Rubio’s bicameral Foreign Influence Transparency Act.

Prioritizing Readiness and Competitiveness Act. Reroutes any unobligated, appropriated funds related to maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan and supporting the Afghan government or military toward power competition with the People’s Republic of China.

Countering the Chinese Government and Communist Party’s Political Influence Operations Act. Requires an unclassified interagency report on the political influence operations of the government of the PRC and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with respect to the United States.

Countering the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) overseas’ basing operations. Requires identification of entities that assist in the construction of PLA overseas bases and subsequent sanctions of those entities.

Banning federal retirement savings from going to China. Prevents the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) from steering federal retirement savings to China. Amendment based on Rubio’s Taxpayers and Savers Protection (TSP) Act.

Assessing China’s threat in space. National Space Council Report on Adversarial Capital from China/Russia in the U.S. Space Industry to defend U.S. supply chains critical to competitiveness in space.

Banning harmful Chinese companies from exploiting U.S. capital markets. Prohibits malign Chinese companies — including a parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or controlling entity — that are listed on the U.S. Department of Commerce Entity List or the U.S. Department of Defense list of Communist Chinese military companies from accessing U.S. capital markets. Amendment based on Rubio’s American Financial Markets Integrity and Security Act.

Protecting Americans’ data from high-risk foreign apps. Establishes a set of data protection and censorship-related standards and restrictions that must be met by high-risk foreign software, like Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat, in order to legally operate in the United States. Amendment based on Rubio’s Adversarial Platform Prevention (APP) Act.

Addressing U.S. over reliance on foreign pharmaceuticals. Codifies recommendations from a September 2021 DoD OIG report to address the national security risk posed by the United States’ reliance on foreign entities for pharmaceuticals. Amendment is based on Rubio’s Strengthening Supply Chains for Servicemembers and Security Act.

Protecting Americans’ sensitive personal data. Expands the Committee on Foreign Investment’s (CFIUS) oversight authority of transactions involving Americans’ sensitive personal data. The amendment would protect personal information, including genetic test results, health conditions, insurance applications, financial hardship data, security clearance information, geolocation data, private emails, data for generating government identification and credit report information.

Amendment based on Rubio’s Protecting Sensitive Personal Data Act.

Assessing the scope of foreign investment in small businesses receiving federal research and development funding. Calls for a report on foreign investment and ownership of firms participating in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, and what steps can be taken to better protect participating firms and federal research and development funds from intellectual property theft or technology transfer.
Limiting the Intelligence Community (IC)’s use of high-risk social media platforms. Prohibits the IC from using TikTok as a recruitment tool.

Researching medical alternatives to treat novel viruses. Authorizes funding for the development of medical countermeasures against novel entities to allow for screening of all compounds approved by the Food and Drug Administration to identify optimal drug candidates for repurposing as medical countermeasures for COVID-19 and other novel and emerging biological threats.

Removing prohibition of divestment for A-10 aircraft. Enables the Air Force’s planned divestment of 41 A-10 Warthogs in Fiscal Year 2022. Without the previously planned divestment, the three F-35 squadrons slated to be stood up at Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) will be indefinitely delayed.

Retirement benefits for Air America employees. Provides Air America employees with the federal retirement credit they earned. Amendment based on Rubio’s Air America Act.

Protecting Florida’s coastlines. Codifies the moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Florida that was put in place by a September 8, 2020 Executive Order by then-President Trump. Under the legislation, the moratorium would be in place for the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic until 2032. Former military officials support the moratorium, writing, “The expansive area off Florida’s Gulf coast has a long history of providing unconstrained access for military training and testing activities that are essential to our national security.” Amendment based on Rubio’s American Shores Protection Act.

Supporting Florida’s marine ecosystems. Requires the Secretary of the Navy to notify the relevant state agency of each coastal state, in addition to Congress, 90 days in advance of the retirement of a naval vessel which may be a viable candidate as an artificial reef. Amendment based on Rubio’s Reusing Equipment for Environmental Fortification (REEF) Act.

Disaster recovery. Authorizes the President to reimburse local governments for qualified interest payments on loans from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for recovery and mitigation efforts as the result of emergency natural disasters. Amendment based on Rubio’s Fairness in Disaster Relief Act.

Daylight Saving Time. Makes Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanent across the country. Amendment based on Rubio’s Sunshine Protection Act, which has broad bipartisan support.

Authorizing increased funding for Cuba Democracy programs. Authorizes $30 million to promote democracy and strengthen U.S. policy toward Cuba, provided, that no funds shall be obligated for business promotion, economic reform, entrepreneurship, or any other assistance that is not democracy-building, as expressly authorized under the Cuban Liberty and Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 and the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992.

Codifying Plan Colombia. Codifies this Bush-era initiative to counter the surge in cocaine production and exports to the United States, including through the use of aerial eradication, which is a tool of the country’s drug control policy and helps fight the increase in transnational and criminal organized groups.

Authorizing new funding for the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. Authorizes $30 million for the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB). This includes funding to deliver satellite-based broadband Internet services to the people of Cuba, one of Rubio’s priorities following the historic organic anti-regime protests throughout the island of Cuba. Seeks to provide internet circumvention tools to the people of Cuba and provide funding to be used to provide uncensored information to the Cuban people using space-based communications technologies.

Authorizing new funding for enhanced security cooperation with Colombia. Includes prohibition of assistance of the United States government for State Department Foreign Terrorist Organizations like the FARC and ELN.

Protecting Central America Women and Children. Authorizes the Secretary of State to enter into Women and Children Compacts with the Governments of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to increase protection of women and children in their communities and to reduce female homicides, domestic violence, and sexual assault.

Establishing DFC offices in Latin America. Amplifies regional engagement and execution of programs that catalyze private sector investment in Jamaica, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Establishes field offices throughout Latin America that can better help the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation‘s (DFC) goal to facilitate private sector investment and other economic opportunities in Latin America.

Partnering with Israel to advance Artificial Intelligence (AI) research and development. Directs the U.S. Secretary of State, in consultation with the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the heads of other relevant U.S. agencies, to establish a joint U.S.-Israel AI Center in the United States. Amendment based on Rubio’s United States–Israel Artificial Intelligence Center Act.

Defending Israel from terrorists. Imposes sanctions targeting Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and any affiliate or successor groups. Amendment based on Rubio’s Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act of 2021.

Preventing Recognition of Terrorist States Act. Directs the U.S. Secretary of State to designate the illegitimate Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as a state sponsor of terrorism and the Taliban as a terrorist organization. The bill would also impose sanctions against foreign individuals who knowingly provide assistance to the Taliban and require a report, within six months, from the U.S. Department of State that determines whether the Taliban should be designated as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker under the Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

Public Health Amendment: promoting women’s lung cancer research. Encourages more research into the prevention and treatment of lung cancer in women, particularly for those who have never smoked. The amendment calls for an interagency review to evaluate and identify opportunities to accelerate research and requires federal agencies to report their findings to Congress. Amendment based on Rubio’s Women and Lung Cancer Research and Preventative Services Act of 2021.

Protecting victims of domestic abuse. Provides transitional compensation benefits to dependents of military members who are found guilty of domestic abuse in civilian court and allows the respective service secretary to delegate authority for those dependents seeking an “exceptional eligibility” to transitional compensation. Amendment based on Rubio’s Rachel Booth Act.

KEVIN DERBY
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