June 13, 2019

S. 1790 – National Defense Authorization Act for FY2020


Background: The Senate Armed Services Committee has filed S. 1790, the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The committee voted on May 23 to advance this bill to the Senate floor by a vote of 25-2.  

Floor Situation: The Senate is expected to begin debate on the NDAA during the week of June 17.

Executive Summary: The fiscal year 2020 NDAA authorizes $741.6 billion for defense spending within the jurisdiction of the Armed Services Committee: $674 billion for the base budget and $76 billion for the overseas contingency operations budget. The bill provides for a 3.1 percent pay raise for members of the armed forces, creates a new Space Force, invests the necessary resources to achieve the goals in the most recent National Defense Strategy, and prioritizes research and development into key technologies. 


The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes funding for defense, military construction, and energy-related national security programs. The total funding authorized for national defense will equal the president’s request of $750 billion. The Senate Armed Services Committee-reported bill authorizes $674 billion for the base defense budget and $76 billion for overseas contingency operations for a total of $741.6 billion. An additional $8.4 billion in defense-related activities count against the defense budget cap for 2020 but are authorized by other committees.

The Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2020 budget request totaled $750 billion for national defense activities. Of that amount, $577 billion was for the base defense and energy-related national security budget and $164 billion for “overseas contingency operations.” An additional $9 billion was requested as emergency spending.


The fiscal year 2020 NDAA being considered by the Senate makes significant reforms to DOD through the creation of the U.S. Space Force as a sixth military service. The last time a new military service was created was 1947.

The SASC-passed NDAA also makes significant decisions regarding the future of our nuclear weapons deterrent. Continued investment and commitment to the nuclear triad is necessary today if DOD is going to field a new intercontinental ballistic missile, a new bomber, and a new strategic ballistic-missile submarine in the next 15 years.

President Trump has taken several actions as commander-in-chief to secure our southern border and address the crisis of illegal immigration. In February, he declared a national emergency and ordered the transfer of $3.6 billion in military construction funding to be redirected toward wall construction at the southern border. Additionally, the Pentagon has used its non-emergency transfer authority to move $2.5 billion in military funding for counterdrug programs to be used to construct fencing on the southern border.   


Pay Raise and End Strength

Increases the pay of all members of the armed forces by 3.1 percent, the largest pay raise in nearly a decade, and authorizes the active-duty end strength of the military at the following levels:  


U.S. Space Force

Establishes the U.S. Space Force as a sixth military service within the Air Force.

Redesignates the current commander of Air Force Space Command as the commander of U.S. Space Force. One year after enactment, the commander of U.S. Space Force will be added as a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Reforms space acquisition by changing the current principal assistant to the secretary of the Air Force for space to the principal assistant to the secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration. This person will oversee all space acquisition activities.

For one year after enactment, the commander of the U.S. Space Force will serve as the commander of U.S. Space Command. After one year, there will be two separate four-star positions for the head of U.S. Space Force and the commander of United States Space Command.

Requires U.S. Space Force to utilize Air Force military and civilian personnel and prohibits adding additional bureaucracy without reductions elsewhere.

Establishes an assistant secretary of defense for space policy within the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Nuclear Weapons Modernization

Fully funds the president’s request for nuclear modernization and ensures that DOD maintains the replacement modernization plans for all three legs of the nuclear triad.

Also authorizes funding for the Department of Energy’s warhead-life extension programs and modernizes and replaces its aging infrastructure.

Return of Great Power Competition: China and Russia

Increases funding for DOD to develop the capability to acquire rare earth minerals instead of relying on China.

Requires the Pentagon to analyze and provide a list of academic institutions in China and Russia with significant military research as part of their overall research and development.

Increases research and development for rapid testing of new transformational weapons systems such as hypersonic weapons and directed energy.

Authorizes support for an Army Multi-Domain Task Force for the Indo-Pacific region and increases funding to forward-base military capabilities in the Pacific.

Limits military cooperation with Russia and prohibits any recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea.

Advances missile defense capabilities and technology to counter ballistic, cruise, and hypersonic missiles being contemplated by Russia and China.

Prioritizes America’s cybersecurity strategy in response to the 2018 DOD Cyber Strategy and Cyber Posture Review.

Expands the capacity, innovation, and integrity of the defense industrial base, including setting up processes to gain insight into foreign ownership and control and influence over defense contractors.

Expands provisions in the Never Contract with the Enemy Act.

Military Construction, Family Housing, and Family Support

Authorizes $18 billion for military construction, including family housing.

Authorizes $3.6 billion to replenish funding for any projects that may be repurposed by the president for border wall construction.

Funds $2.6 billion to repair military installations in Florida and North Carolina as part of disaster recovery.

In order to address the flaws and shortcomings in the military’s efforts to outsource its housing to contractors, the NDAA takes the following actions:

  1. Directs DOD to create a Military Tenant Bill of Rights;

  2. Authorizes a clear and fair dispute resolution process for military tenants;

  3. Increases DOD oversight of military contractors;

  4. Enhances quality assurance and quality control measures;

  5. Authorizes more than $300 million for additional government personnel to oversee contractors on military installations while providing direct hiring authority for these positions;

Authorizes DOD to enter into a cooperative agreement with the Council of State Governments to assist with funding and development of interstate compacts on licenses for military spouses. Extends the ability of DOD to reimburse spouses for licensure and certification costs by two years.

Modernization and Procurement

Authorizes $10 billion for 94 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft:

  1. $5.4 billion for 60 F-35A fighters for the Air Force

  2. $1.3 billion for 12 F-35B fighters for the Marine Corps

  3. $2.5 billion for 22 F-35C fighters for the Navy

Provides authority to the secretary of defense to award multiyear contracts for F-35s bought in fiscal years 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Authorizes the following aircraft purchases in addition to the F-35 program:

  1. $1.75 billion for 24 F-18 Super Hornets for the Navy

  2. $948 million for eight F-15X aircraft for the Air Force

  3. $2.8 billion for 15 KC-46A refueling tankers for the Air Force

  4. $871 million for eight MC-130J cargo planes for the Air Force

  5. $807 million for 48 AH-64E Apache helicopters for the Army

  6. $1.3 billion for 66 UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters for the Army

Authorizes $24.1 billion to fund 12 new battle force ships and accelerate funding for additional ships:

  1. $5.6 billion for Arleigh Burke class destroyers

  2. $9.0 billion for Virginia class submarines

  3. $1.8 billion for Columbia class submarines

Fully funds development of the new B-21 bomber.

Allies and Partners

Authorizes $4.8 billion for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund.

Authorizes $500 million for cooperative missile programs between the United States and Israel – Iron Dome, Arrow 3, and David’s Sling – in accordance with the U.S.-Israel memorandum of understanding. 

Authorizes $300 million for security assistance to Ukraine, of which $100 million is only available for lethal assistance, and specifies that coastal defense and anti-ship missiles are eligible categories of security assistance.

Research and Development

Authorizes $104 billion in research and development funding for fiscal year 2020, which is $1.5 billion above the president’s request.

Requires DOD to work with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission to establish two test beds to test and integrate DOD systems with non-military systems – both government and private sector – using the same electromagnetic spectrum.

Authorizes $25 million for DOD to advance spectrum sharing programs so that 5G wireless networks can be used most efficiently.

Requires the secretary of defense to establish supply chain and operational security standards for its purchases of microelectronics in order to mitigate the threats to the supply chain while ensuring a competitive and secure industrial base.


The president has not released a Statement of Administration Policy. 


The Congressional Budget Office cost estimate is not yet available.