With the 164th Airlift Wing and the Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington both within Tennessee's Ninth Congressional District, defense and military policy play a significant role in our community.

We need to support our troops with sufficient funding so that they have access to adequate equipment and receive necessary training. I believe that the best way to protect our troops is to bring them home. 

My votes for strict timelines for withdrawal from both Afghanistan and Iraq corresponded with the hundreds of responses I heard from people in the Ninth Congressional District.

The National Guard has been stretched too thin by extended tours overseas. Their primary function is to respond to emergencies within the United States. I believe they should be readily available to respond when needed during catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina.

Legislative efforts of the 115th Congress:

Protecting the National Security Council from Political Interference Act (H.R. 804)

This bill prohibits staff whose positions are primarily political from being members of the National Security Council, and expresses a sense of Congress that there should be no limit on access to such meetings by the Director of National Intelligence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Additionally, I have signed on to a letter to President Trump on February 1, 2017 asking the President to restore the Director of National Intelligence and Joint Chiefs to the National Security Council and explain his justification for including Steve Bannon.  Steve Bannon was removed from the National Security Council on April 5, 2017. I also signed on to a letter to President Trump on February 10, 2017 asking that he suspend National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and deny him access to classified material until an investigation into his actions regarding Russia is complete.  Michael Flynn resigned on February 13, 2017.

ENLIST Act (H.R. 60) 

This bill gives DREAMers the ability to enlist in the armed services and permanent legal status provided they fulfill their enlistment obligations and are discharged honorably or re-enlisted.

Servicemember Intimate Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 1588) 

This bill would amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice to prohibit the nonconsensual distribution of private sexual images.

Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 1556) 

This bipartisan bill places restrictions and transparency measures on the Defense Department’s program that transfers excess military equipment to local law enforcement including preventing transfers of equipment such as grenade launchers, weaponized drones and armored military vehicles that are inappropriate for local policing.

Climate Change National Security Strategy Act (H.R. 2908)

This bill restores the core directives on national security and climate change included in President Obama’s September 2016 memorandum.\

Wounded Warrior Service Dog Act of 2017 (H.R. 2625)

This bill directs the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs (VA) to jointly establish the K-9 Companion Corps program for the awarding of grants to assist nonprofit organizations in establishing, planning, designing, and/or operating programs to provide assistance dogs to certain members of the Armed Forces and veterans who have certain disabilities. Defines "assistance dog" to mean a dog specifically trained to perform physical tasks to mitigate the effects of such a disability, except that such term does not include a dog specifically trained for comfort or personal defense.  I also cosponsored it in the 114th Congress.

Restore Honor to Service Members Act (H.R. 2904)

This bill requires appropriate military record correction boards or discharge review boards to review the discharge characterization of any former members of the Armed Forces requesting a review who were discharged because of their sexual orientation, and permits such boards to change a characterization to honorable if such characterization is any characterization except honorable.  I also cosponsored it in the 114th Congress.

Legislative Efforts of 114th Congress

In 2015, I introduced the National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Extension Act of 2015 (H.R. 4246).  This bill, which was signed into law by President Obama on December 18, 2015, ensures that certain members of the National Guard and Reserves who fall on hard economic times after their military service will continue to obtain bankruptcy relief without having to fill out the substantial paperwork required by the so-called "means test" under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. The bill extends the existing “means test” exception until 2019.

Other Defense Related Legislation

In 2011, I introduced the Honor the Written Intent of Our Service member Heroes (WISH) Act (H.R. 1046).  This bill allows soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen designate who they want to organize their funeral arrangements should they be killed while serving their country, even if the designated individuals is not a spouse, blood relative or adoptive parent.  This legislation was supported by the Air Force Association, AMVETS, the Jewish War Veterans of the USA, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the National Association of Uniformed Services, the Reserve Officers Association, the United States Army Warrant Officers Association, and Vietnam Veterans of America.  The legislation was ultimately included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (H.R. 1540), which passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Obama on December 31, 2011. 

Additionally, I voted in favor of:

  • H.R. 2647, the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2010
  • S. 3001, the FY 2009 Defense Authorization, representing a House-Senate agreement on the bill
  • H.R. 4986, the 2008 Defense Authorization Act
  • H.R. 3222, the 2008 Defense Appropriation Act, which provided the funding for the military needs that were included in the 2008 Defense Authorization Act

More on Defense

December 28, 2020 Press Release


MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today joined his colleagues in a bipartisan vote overriding the President’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act. The measure contains vital provisions for our service members, addresses Vietnam-era veterans dealing with exposure to Agent Orange, and begins the process for removing the names of Confederate officials in the Civil War from our military installations, among its important provisions.

The vote, which required a two-thirds majority, was 322 to 87.

July 21, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) tonight applauded the inclusion of his priorities in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a measure providing for our national defense in the fiscal year that begins October 1.

July 2, 2020 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, today applauded the inclusion of his bill, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Careers Act, in the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  This AI Careers Act aims to improve AI education and AI workforce development.  The NDAA is set to come to the House Floor in the coming weeks.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

April 7, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS --  Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) led a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper condemning the dismissal of Captain Crozier, commander of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt and calling for Captain Crozier’s restoration of command.


The letter reads in part:


“The dismissal of Captain Crozier sends a chilling message to other commanding officers, if they take actions to protect their people.  It is frightening to think that this chilling effect might unnecessarily cost the lives of servicemembers.


January 30, 2020 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today voted to prohibit federal funds from being used for military actions in or against Iran unless Congress has declared war.  Congressman Cohen also voted to repeal the outdated and unnecessary 2002 Iraq Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Under the Constitution, Congress has the sole duty to declare war and these votes reassert Congress’ authority over this solemn duty.  

After the vote, Congressman Cohen made the following statement: 

December 17, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today voted for one of two comprehensive spending measures funding federal government programs through the end of fiscal year in September 2020. Both measures passed the House, averting another government shutdown. The measure the Congressman supported provides a record high level of spending on the National Institutes of Health, Child Care and Community Development Block Grants, Head Start, Title 1 Education, and Food for Peace. 

August 26, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) was pleased to see that his bill, the National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Extension Act, has been signed into law.

April 4, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a Member of the bicameral U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (known as The Helsinki Commission), today made the following statement commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“NATO remains the most important and critical security link between the United States and Europe. NATO allies and partners in both Central and Eastern Europe have stood alongside the United States in joint peace operations in the Western Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.

February 28, 2019 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) chaired the first hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties today for a hearing on the National Emergencies Act of 1976 and President Trump’s declaration of an emergency on the U.S.-Mexican border. See his opening statement here.

Afterward, Congressman Cohen said:

November 9, 2018 Press Release


WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen released the following statement commemorating this year’s Veterans Day: 

 “Each November, we pause to pay special tribute to the brave men and women who have served our country in uniform. This year, on Sunday, we also commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the brutality of World War I.