The House Armed Services Committee in a late-night vote on June 21 approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2024 by a tally of 58-1, following a 17-hour markup session.
The committee’s approval sends the measure for consideration to the full House in the coming weeks.
More than 800 amendments were negotiated during the marathon markup session.
The annual bill authorizes Department of Defense (DoD) spending levels and sets overarching military policy to equip, supply, and train U.S. troops and provide for military families. This year’s NDAA, which authorizes an $886 billion military budget for the coming fiscal year, includes numerous cyber and tech provisions and space policy provisions.
“These are challenging times, and we face an array of threats, from China to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Iran, North Korea, and even transnational terrorists. There is a lot we need to make sure we prepare the country for, and this piece of legislation upholds our national security,” said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., ranking member of the committee.
Only Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., voted against the bill. In a Twitter post following the committee vote, Rep. Khanna said he was “proud to cast the lone NO vote against a defense budget nearing $1 trillion while we are cutting relief for the poor, for students with loans, & for the working class.”
Cybersecurity, Technology Provisions in FY24 NDAA
On the technology front, the committee approved tech-and cyber-focused legislation that lays out several provisions to ensure the DoD enhances its cyber capabilities and drives the development and use of innovative technology.
Among the several provisions offered during the markup, there was a clear emphasis on defense leadership integrating commercial technology and not just developing it, improving the DoD’s cybersecurity posture through better visibility into networks and endpoints, developing metrics to measure the department’s success at transitioning technologies, and hardening academic research security from intellectual property thieves.
“The Cyber, Information Technologies, and Innovation mark that we present today strengthen our cyber defense and modernizes how the Department thinks about fielding advanced technology in two months rather than two to ten years,” Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., said.
“The more time it takes to accept that we find ourselves amid a New Cold War, the hotter the tension and conflicts become. Both the action and the inaction we take today and over the next two years will have lasting repercussions on our national security – and American influence as we know it,” he said.
Rep. Gallagher also highlighted an amendment that would formally codify the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and develop an enterprise focused on fielding and operationalizing technologies, not just creating them. According to the congressman, DIU has proven to be one of the most successful organizations at bringing private sector innovation and speed into the hands of warfighters.
“By codifying and elevating DIU, we further empower them to improve and scale their work,” he said.
Space Policy Provisions
The committee approved several space policy provisions introduced by the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, including requiring the DoD to share threat intelligence with commercial satellite operators and establishing a Space National Guard.
One provision, introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., directs the Space Force to provide a report on the “technical maturity, cost, benefits, and risks associated with fielding a high-power megawatt nuclear-electric power and propulsion asset in space.”
According to Rep. Wilson, there is a need for satellite power systems that have significant maneuvering capability, and he said that nuclear power is a technology that adversary nations are pursuing to address this.
Regarding the establishment of the Space National Guard, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., said that in authorizing “the establishment of the Space National Guard,” Congress sets “a new personnel management benchmark by authorizing the creation of an innovative personnel management system for the Space Force.”