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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. THORNBERRY. I appreciate the chairman yielding.

I think the first thing that should be said is that it is a tremendous credit to the chairman and the ranking member that we are where we are today. It may be true that for 51 straight years a defense authorization bill has been signed into law, but that doesn't make it easy to do number 52.

There are still a number of complex and even some controversial issues. And so to have this bill before us today coming out of the committee on a vote that is so strong I think is truly a credit to the leadership of the chairman and the ranking member and the staff who have worked very well together.

I also want to express particular appreciation to the ranking member on our subcommittee, Mr. Langevin, because that, too, has been a partnership in dealing with a number of complex issues, including Special Operations, cybersecurity, science and technology, and military intelligence issues.

One of the key priorities for us on this subcommittee has been oversight. If you think back 2 years ago, in this bill we instituted a quarterly reporting requirement for certain counterterrorism operations involving Special Operations. Last year, we had a quarterly reporting requirement on cyber operations. This year, in the full committee mark, is a reporting requirement involving sensitive military operations, including lethal and capture operations that is designed for oversight before, just after, and, in a broader sense, after these events have occurred. Oversight is a critically important part of everything the committee does, especially in these complex areas.

There are a number of other provisions, Mr. Chairman, dealing with military intelligence, cyber, Special Operations, and science and technology that take important steps forward in helping this country to be safer.

I will note I find it strange, the administration seems to oppose requiring the Defense Clandestine Service to focus its collection on defense priorities. That is what we require in this bill, and for some reason that gives the administration heartburn. I hope we can continue to have conversations with them about it because it seems to me that's exactly what a defense clandestine service should be focused on.

There are other priorities here dealing with chem/biodefense and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency that deal with some of the issues most in the news today--think of Syria and other problem spots around the world.

The key point, Mr. Chairman, is it has taken a lot of work to get to this point; we have a lot of amendment debate to come. But it is truly a credit to the staff, to the chairman, to the ranking member of this committee that something so important, so complex has come to the floor with such overwhelming bipartisan support. We'll have differences, but I hope and trust that it will leave the floor in the same way.


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