WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today delivered remarks at the annual “pass the gavel” meeting, which is an opportunity for members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees to meet and work together to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Chairman Reed was joined by SASC Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS), as well as House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), and senior members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees for a joint, bicameral meeting of the NDAA conference committee, which negotiates the annual defense bill.

Each year, the chairmanship of the NDAA conference committee alternates between the two chambers.  This year, SASC Chairman Reed ‘passed the gavel’ to HASC Chairman Rogers, who chaired the conference meeting.

Both chambers have approved bills authorizing about $886 billion in total defense funding for fiscal year 2024.  However, the Senate and House bills have several key differences, which resulted in the U.S. Senate previously approving a strong, bipartisan NDAA on a vote of 86-11 while the House bill contains many partisan, controversial riders that resulted in a narrow 219-210 vote by the Republican-controlled House in July.

Reed said that significant progress has been made over the last several weeks on hammering out a bipartisan, bicameral defense bill and expressed hope that the members of the conference committee could resolve remaining differences and enact a bipartisan NDAA for the 63rd year in a row.

Reed said he hoped the conference committee could conclude its work this week and the NDAA could be readied for floor consideration by both chambers next week.

During today’s meeting, Senator Reed stated:

“The United States faces a dangerous set of national security challenges.  China has emerged as our primary competitor, possessing both the intent and the capability to mount a sustained challenge to our interests around the world. 

“Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and Iran and North Korea’s provocations continue to push the boundaries of military brinksmanship. Further, war in the Middle East requires our continued focus, both militarily and diplomatically.

“The world is growing more dangerous by the day, and our national security is on the line.

“The bottom line is this: Congress has a Constitutional duty to provide for the common defense. 

“We are responsible for ensuring that our servicemembers and defense civilians have the resources, training, equipment, and capabilities they need to keep our nation safe.

“The fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act will do just that.  We are creating a strong, bipartisan NDAA that addresses the long-term challenges posed by China, Russia, and other adversaries – a priority of both parties.

“We must stay laser-focused on preparing our troops to deter, and if necessary, fight and win any conflict.

“I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts on how we best approach the challenges ahead.”