Congressman Cohen Applauds Inclusion of his Priorities in the National Defense Authorization Act

July 21, 2020
Press Release
Provisions include drone program for the University of Memphis, a study of the school-to-prison pipeline, and an assessment of DOD financial management

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. The measure, which passed the House 295 to 125 and for which Congressman Cohen voted, includes language that authorizes a $2 million multi-drone/multi-sensor intelligence program that will be housed at the University of Memphis.  Congressman Cohen also introduced amendments that were included in the NDAA that would require a report to clarify which countries have consented to have Russian military forces within their borders; a report seeking a General Accountability Office (GAO) study of the school-to-prison pipeline; and a requirement that an audit is made of Department of Defense financial management.  Congressman Cohen also voted for an amendment that provides vital relief to private student loan borrowers who received no assistance in the CARES Act, reducing the outstanding balance of a borrower’s private student loans by up to $10,000 through direct payments from Treasury to student loan servicers, and requiring sustainable loan modifications to reflect the reduced principal amount.

“I was pleased that the NDAA included important provisions that will benefit Memphis, the 9th Congressional District, and the country. “This huge bill is the product of give and take and dedicated bipartisan negotiations. I am especially pleased that the bill contains important provisions that will benefit Memphis and the 9th Congressional District. While I have not always supported these massive measures, it is important to vote for a bill that supports our national defense needs while addressing fundamental issues in the country, such as military bases named for those who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and efforts that ensure that the military looks more like the United States of America, that are long overdue.”

Among its major provisions:

  • The bill contains language that creates a commission 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.  The names of our military bases should reflect our highest ideals, expressing who we aspire to be as a nation.
  • The measure has strong provisions to take care of our troops and our military families – authorizing support for a 3 percent pay raise, authorizing increased funding to clean up contamination of drinking water on our military bases by PFAS chemicals, continuing to invest in improving the oversight and management of housing for military personnel and their families, making improvements to sexual assault prevention and response programs, and developing several key programs to promote and enhance diversity and inclusion programs in our military.
  • The measure contains a key provision creating a $1 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund, directing funding to efforts to proactively increase our country’s ability to be prepared for and respond to future pandemics.
  • The bill makes corrections to the paid parental leave benefit provided through the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that the FAA, Department of Veterans Affairs, and certain other civilian employees inadvertently omitted from the legislation receive the paid parental leave benefit.
  • The bill also honors America’s values in many ways, including prohibiting use of DOD funds to provide logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition for strikes in Yemen, limiting the funding under the national emergency military construction authority to prevent its misuse on the President’s wasteful border wall, and not containing any restrictions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay.
  • In addition, the measure also includes several provisions to confront the climate crisis.
  • Finally, the bill does not authorize an additional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in FY 2021.