Hoeven Statement on the National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement regarding passage of the National Defense Authorization Act:

“Today, I joined a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate to pass the National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation includes important provisions for our troops, including increased pay, and measures to address sexual assault in the military. It also contains measures important to our bases including the authorization of three new military construction projects at Minot Air Force Base, language that protects and upgrades the B-52 fleet at Minot, and a provision that prevents the retirement of the Global Hawk Block 30 unmanned aircraft.

“Still, I do have concerns about some of the provisions in this bill. However, I believe these areas of concern can be addressed in the appropriations process, which will begin in January.

“First, I am concerned that the bill contains a provision that enables the Air Force to initiate a process that could result in the unilateral destruction of some U.S. nuclear missile silos, possibly including some in North Dakota. The administration has asked for an environmental impact statement preparatory to destroying these silos. The nuclear triad, our air, land and sea-based nuclear deterrent, has kept the United States secure since the end of the Second World War, for nearly 70 years, and continues to keep us safe in a world with a growing number of nuclear states, including Iran. That formidable arsenal has discouraged any attack on the United States because the result would trigger a counterstrike. We need to retain that advantage.

“Second, the legislation does not include language that adequately supports the Global Hawk Block 40 fleet, a mission assigned to the Grand Forks Air Force Base. This is a critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission that cannot be performed by any other aircraft. The Block 40s are in high demand overseas thanks to their ability to give vital information to commanders and enable our forces to secure our interests and protect our allies. The Block 40 fleet is simply too valuable to give up and must be protected from budget games in Washington.

“I will work to address both silos and the Global Hawks in the Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations process.”