Washington, DC – FP4A is disappointed to see topline defense spending in the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) continue to soar further beyond the President’s request, but we are heartened by Congress’ attempt to slowly reorient our foreign policy toolkit toward diplomacy, soft power capabilities, and further commit to addressing the climate crisis. While this legislation included unnecessary increases to the defense budget, it also contained numerous provisions to modernize the State Department, increase our diplomatic engagement in the Indo-Pacific, further our support for Ukraine, ensure global food security, and reckon with DOD’s role as our nation’s largest polluter.
Some key provisions include:
Passage of the bipartisan State Department Authorization Act of 2022, an effort that was spearheaded by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Jim Risch (R-ID). This marks the second year in a row that Congress has authorized the State Department – an important step toward ensuring our diplomats are able to nimbly respond to rising international challenges. Specifically, this bill makes considerable improvement across the Department including the extension of the student paid internship program, reforming embassy security requirements and the Accountability Review Board process to allow greater expeditionary diplomacy, codifying the Cyberspace and Digital Policy Bureau, and authorizing important global health provisions to bolster pandemic preparedness.
An effort by Representative Ami Bera (D-CA) to ramp up U.S. engagement in the Indo-Pacific region was included in the NDAA. This important first step to secure and stabilize the region will ensure our diplomatic and development footprint is rightsized and positioned to bolster American leadership in the Indo-Pacific.
Increased funding and expressing Congress’ unwavering support for Ukraine as Vladimir Putin continues his unlawful assault on the people of Ukraine championed by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH).
The Global Food Security Reauthorization Act by Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), which will continue the U.S.’ work to combat global hunger by implementing a whole-of-government approach and improving coordination among government departments.
Provisions from Senator Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) DOD clean energy bill, which will work to wean our nation’s largest polluter off of fossil fuels and promote the use of renewable energy while increasing DOD’s resilience.
Despite the inclusion of important pieces of legislation that will bolster American global leadership, this year’s NDAA falls short in many ways that perpetuates a worrying trend toward the over-militarization of our foreign policy.
Areas of concern include:
The exclusion of numerous efforts to repeal outdated and irrelevant Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF), specifically the 2002 AUMF. Despite the efforts of champions like Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senator Todd Young (R-IN), and broad bipartisan support for repeal, the measure was excluded in the final negotiated text of the NDAA. These AUMFs give the President free-will to cite these legally dubious authorizations to justify any military action without Congress’ approval – antithetical to the Framers’ intentions when it came to matters of war and peace.
Language facilitating Special Immigrant Visas for U.S. partners in Afghanistan was struck from the final text of the bill. Failure to include this language calls into question our commitment to our allies and endangers the lives of innumerable Afghans, who bravely assisted U.S. servicemembers during our time in Afghanistan. This stain on our reputation will certainly harm our national security for decades to come.
Increased funding for the research and development of the nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N) program. We question why, in the face of marginal gains in capability and insufficient demonstration of need, Congress would insist on maintaining this excessive program. The stalwart commitment to developing, modernizing, and expanding our nuclear capabilities does not engender a safer, more secure world.
“While we are disappointed that efforts to bring topline defense spending back in line with the President’s request failed, there is much to be encouraged by in the NDAA from State Department authorization to bolstering American leadership in the Indo-Pacific and the bill’s attention to DOD’s role in driving down emissions and increasing the climate resilience of its installations and operations,” said FP4A’s Senior Director of Policy Ben Weingrod. “This bill certainly falls short in achieving our goals of leading with diplomacy and principled American engagement in the world, but FP4A looks forward to working with our partners and allies on the Hill to continue to move the needle next Congress.”