Senators Lee, Romney have measures enacted in 2024 National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON – Both of Utah’s U.S. Senators, Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, had measures enacted in the passage of the 2024 fiscal year National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is annual legislation that authorizes funding levels and provides authorities for the U.S. military and other critical defense priorities.

The bipartisan Senate NDAA includes several of Romney’s initiatives geared at protecting against Chinese and Russian threats and emphasizing Utah’s essential role in national security.

The Senate also adopted an amendment added by Lee, which requires the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, to review the ten countries with the largest U.S. armed forces presence and provide an assessment of the protections our service-members receive under the bilateral Status of Forces Agreements we hold with each country.

On the passage of his amendment, Lee said, “We have an obligation to ensure our brave men and women in uniform are afforded basic legal protections. This amendment is our commitment to guaranteeing that their legal treatment is fair and just, consistent with the rights they would have under U.S. law. Congress should not allow anything less.”

Lee’s amendment was in response to the imprisonment of Lieutenant Ridge Alkonis’ in Japan earlier this year. Lee’s amendment hopes to resolve the lack of clarity on legal rights and processes under foreign law, and will try to ensure that men and women in uniform receive the fair and just legal treatment they deserve while serving their country overseas.

“The passage of this amendment,” Lee added, “affirms to our troops and their families that Congress is committed to getting our Status of Forces Agreements right. We will continue to address these challenges with our allies, ensuring our agreements provide the fair and just legal treatment our service-members deserve.”

Romney had several measures included in this years NDAA, including legislation targeting China’s ‘unfair’ international advantages, focusing U.S. national security resources with respect to China, develop a strategy with NATO partners to increase security in the Black Sea, combatting fentanyl trafficking, bolstering U.S. nuclear deterrence, and several more.

“As the United States faces growing threats from adversaries, our military must have the resources, equipment, and capabilities it needs to keep our nation safe,” Romney said. “This year’s Senate NDAA includes several provisions which I fought for to protect against these growing threats by modernizing our nuclear triad, fully understanding the extent of China’s defense-industrial complex, and bolstering our domestic critical mineral capabilities to reduce our dependence on adversaries like China and Russia.”

Romney also introduced measures central to Utah, including support for the Dugway Proving Ground. The Dugway Proving Ground is an Army Facility located 85-miles southwest of Salt Lake City, which tests biological and chemical weapons.

Romney introduced the Chemical and Biological Defense Improvement Act in the 2024 NDAA, which removes a bureaucratic roadblock that prevents the U.S. Army from requesting funding for military construction projects related to chem-bio program facilities like those at Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground. The legislation was cosponsored by Sen. Lee and in the House by Representatives Stewart, Curtis, Owens, and Moore.

The newly passed NDAA also authorizes $96.2 million for new military construction projects at Hill Air Force Base, constituting $82 million for the F-35 T-7A East Campus infrastructure project, which would support F-35 maintenance, repair, and training facilities, in addition to a T-7A Depot Maintenance Complex; and $14.2 million for a new open storage area for the Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Hill, Utah in support of F-35 depot maintenance and the LGM-35A Sentinel programs.

“Importantly, this year’s defense bill also includes many measures which will bolster Utah’s role in our national defense,” Romney said. “Among those measures is my legislation to help ensure Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground continues its efforts to prepare our military for evolving chemical and biological threats. By strengthening the Sentinel program, which has a major presence at Utah’s Hill Air Force Base, the NDAA demonstrates our commitment to modernizing our nuclear triad at a time when deterrence against China and Russia is of paramount importance.

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