Hoyer Floor Remarks on the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report

News Release, Office of Democrat Majority Leader Steny Hoyer(D-Md05)

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) spoke on the House Floor in support of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act conference report. Below are excerpts of his remarks and a link to the video.

“Madam Speaker, I want to thank Chairman [Adam] Smith, the Democratic Members, and the majority staff in the Armed Services Committee, as well as the Ranking Member and the minority staff. They have been working very hard on this legislation. The conference report before us represents a compromise.”

“I am particularly pleased… that this… bill does include for the first time 12 weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child for all federal civilian employees. There was, for a period of time, a suggestion that it only applied to [Department of] Defense employees. I would suggest the national security of our country is in interrelated ways dependent upon all of our [federal] employees, and we ought to treat them equally. I wrote a letter urging that, and others weighed in as well. I’m pleased that the Committee ultimately decided to treat all federal employees the same, even though we limited it not to family leave, but to parental leave. Now, that’s a step in the right direction… I’m disappointed that we don’t have full coverage [of family and medical leave benefits], but this is a first and very significant step. I want to congratulate the gentlelady from New York, [Congresswoman] Carolyn Maloney, who has been a giant in her advocacy of this policy for our people, for our employees, and by the way, for our infants… I will continue to fight for the full measure of paid family and medical leave to be extended to our employees and would urge others around the country to do the same.”

“This conference report, unfortunately, does not include a comprehensive set of provisions that were adopted in this House to protect communities affected by PFAS. PFAS are a category of chemicals that essentially do not disappear and are toxic when introduced into our waters, and [they] exist on our military bases… I know that the Chairman fought very hard for this. I know that the President’s position was that he did not want this in the bill and indicated it would not happen. But I thank Mr. Smith for fighting so hard for this, and I know that we’ll keep fighting, and I want to tell the House that I intend to bring a bill to the Floor incorporating the provisions that were in the [NDAA] but dropped. I will bring it to the Floor in January.”

“I was sorry that the anti-discrimination provision that was included in this House [NDAA], dealing with transgender people who wanted to serve their country, was eliminated from the bill. I think that was wrong… I will continue to fight that ban, which undermines our national security and the military’s effectiveness and does not reflect the values and ideas that our military defends.”

“I will also continue to advocate for a change in policy regarding Yemen. That war is a human-made disaster. It’s not our fault, but we ought not to be complicit.”

“I want to say to all of my colleagues that we need with great diligence and courage to look at the defense budget and look at that $738 billion with an eye that the pot is not unlimited and that our national security depends not only on our defense investment but on our domestic investment in education and health care and the welfare of our people. I am supporting this bill, but – as I have urged privately both the Chairman and the Ranking Member – we need to look very carefully at how we’re expending this amount of money to ensure that it is spent effectively and that we cannot get the same level of defense at a lower level of expenditure. It’s a tough job to do, but it needs to be done. I rise in support of this bill.”

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