House Passes NDAA Which Includes Several Bills By Rep. Lynch

Jul 21, 2020 Issues: Anti-Terrorist Financing, Committee on Oversight and Reform, National Security

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6395, the William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2021, which will help strengthen America’s national security.  The NDAA includes three bills put forward by U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security, which will help reduce waste and abuse in U.S. wartime contracting, increase transparency of matters related to the U.S. War in Afghanistan and help combat terrorist financing.

“I am very pleased to see three of my bills were included in the NDAA, which will help strengthen oversight of our armed forces and bolster our country’s national security and I am grateful for the House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith’s support,” said Rep. Lynch.  “As we continue to support fledgling democracies with reconstruction and other support contracts overseas, we must do all we can to ensure American taxpayer funds are being spent wisely.  My Wartime Contracting Commission Reauthorization Act reestablishes an independent, bipartisan commission that has a proven record in helping reduce waste, fraud and abuse in our overseas contracting.  Another one of my bills, the Afghanistan Security and Reconstruction Transparency Act, would require the publication and release of information regarding the performance and progress of stabilization efforts in Afghanistan, which is vital to ensuring mission success. The American people have every right to know the truth about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Lastly, the United States must intensify our fight against foreign government corruption and the money laundering that allows terrorist organization to thrive, and my Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Act will help U.S. authorities combat terrorist financing by establishing a rewards program for whistleblowers.”

Wartime Contracting Commission Reauthorization Act

The Wartime Contracting Commission Reauthorization Act would reauthorize the independent and bipartisan Commission responsible for examining waste, fraud and abuse in U.S. wartime contracting.  This bill would reauthorize the Commission on Wartime Contracting and require a final report due to Congress two years after the date of appointment of all eight bipartisan Commission Members. Congress established the Commission on Wartime Contracting in 2008, where it held 25 hearings and issued eight reports on contingency contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, embassy security, the sustainability of reconstruction efforts and Defense Department contractor oversight before it expired in September 2011.

Afghanistan Security and Reconstruction Transparency Act

The Afghanistan Security and Reconstruction Transparency Act would require the Department of Defense to declassify multiple performance metrics related to the U.S. War in Afghanistan that have been withheld from the American people by the Trump Administration.  For years, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko has provided the American people and members of Congress with regular quarterly updates about security and reconstruction conditions in Afghanistan. These reports have included important metrics related to the performance and readiness of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and have mapped the relative district-by-district status of areas controlled by the Afghan government in comparison to the districts under Taliban control. The maps of district control have been an important tool in measuring the progress of U.S. and coalition efforts in Afghanistan. Prior to 2017, this information was publicly available, which greatly helped to inform the American public and guide Congressional debate and oversight of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and enabled Members of Congress to discuss the war’s progress with constituents.  However, beginning in 2017, the incoming Trump Administration chose to conceal the district control maps and other important information from the American people and has moved to classify, redact, or otherwise restrict the availability of this information to members of Congress. In testimony before Congress, SIGAR Sopko has repeatedly confirmed that these new restrictions do tend to limit Congressional oversight and similarly prevent the American people from being able to meaningfully evaluate for themselves how their money is being spent in Afghanistan.

The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Act

The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Act would help U.S. authorities combat terrorist financing and foreign government corruption by establishing a rewards program for whistleblowers.  Corrupt foreign officials often use the United States and the international financial system to hide their stolen assets and the proceeds of corruption. As these assets are disguised and moved through financial institutions, bad actors can funnel these funds to terrorist organizations around the world. The rewards program established by the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Act would incentivize individuals to notify the U.S. government of assets in U.S. financial institutions that are linked to foreign corruption, allowing authorities to recover and return these assets and prevent further enabling of foreign corruption and terrorist financing.

H.R. 6395, the William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2021, authorizes a 3 percent military pay raise, invests in housing improvements for military member and their families and increases funding to clean up contaminated drinking water on our military bases.  The NDAA also includes fixes to expand paid parental leave for certain federal civilian employees originally omitted, initiatives to combat the climate crisis and proactively strengthening our nation’s defenses to future pandemics, including with a $1 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund. 

The names of America's military bases should reflect our highest ideals, expressing who we aspire to be as a nation, and in the NDAA the House of Representatives came together on a bipartisan basis to begin the process of changing the names of military bases and infrastructure named after individuals who served in the Confederacy, with the process to be completed in one year.  Additionally, the NDAA includes improvements to sexual assault prevention and response programs and develops several key programs to promote and enhance diversity and inclusion programs in our military.