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May 19, 2016

Aguilar Passes National Security Amendments through House of Representatives

Last night, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, which included four national security amendments submitted by Rep. Pete Aguilar. The NDAA is an annual defense policy bill that directs the United States’ defense programs for the fiscal year. While Aguilar was glad to support the bill, which supports the nation’s defense priorities and authorizes funding for troops, he was deeply disturbed by the inclusion of a hateful anti-LGBT amendment that was added in the committee markup. The amendment, now provision, offered by Rep. Steve Russell (R-Oklahoma) allows federal contractors to discriminate against the LGBT community by claiming a “religious exemption” to get around rules that bar discrimination in hiring by federal contractors. House Republicans blocked a bipartisan amendment to remove the language from getting a vote on the House floor.

“Funding our nation’s defense programs is essential to maintaining our national security structure, so for House Republicans to hold that hostage over a vile provision rooted in bigotry is reprehensible. This bill is about directing our nation’s defense priorities, not giving clout to those who want to discriminate against an entire community,” said Rep. Aguilar. He continued, “I supported the NDAA because there are critical defense initiatives that we need to address, but I urge my fellow members who conference on this bill to strip this odious language and let us move forward with its true intentions: to fund our nation’s defense programs.”

Aguilar voted against the Russell Amendment during the committee markup of the bill last month. Last night, he voted in favor of a Democratic measure which would strike the hateful provision and also prohibit another derogatory provision added by House Republicans, which safeguards the flying of the Confederate Battle Flag over The Citadel, a prominent military institution that is funded by American taxpayer dollars. The measure failed, with all Republicans voting against it.

Three of Rep. Aguilar’s amendments were passed during the committee markup of the bill and one was added on the floor earlier this week. The amendments seek to increase and enhance the United States’ national security by strengthening our cybersecurity workforce; putting veterans back to work; supporting Hispanic Serving institutions that offer science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs; and helping the Department of Defense (DOD) sync its cybersecurity training programs. To read more about Rep. Aguilar’s amendments, please see here and here. The NDAA passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 277 to 147.

Rep. Aguilar serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Subcommittees on Strategic Forces and Emerging Threats and Capabilities.