U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) touted huge wins for Arizona in the annual defense bill on the floor of the U.S. Senate today.

McSally highlighted support for Arizona service members and their families, in addition to investments in key Arizona military missions.

McSally said in part: “Since I have been in Congress, I led the fight to stop the A-10 from being mothballed and this bill continues to secure resources needed to modernize the A-10, based at Davis Monthan AFB. We also succeeded in funding a new hangar and barracks at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, and additional F-35s at Luke AFB and Yuma for training and deploying the next generation of F-35 pilots. I also secured funding to upgrade the Barry Goldwater training ranges, and many other Arizona initiatives.

“The annual defense bill is about protecting the people who protect us. This year’s bill reiterates to the men and women of our military that we have their backs.”

She added: “The Senate voted in a landslide bipartisan way (86-8) to fund affected military construction projects in this bill. Then, during conference negotiations, Democrats refused to fully fund these projects due to political games surrounding border security. Think about that: they were against the President diverting the resources to secure the border. So they decided to take it out on our military by refusing to backfill the funding. Our military deserves better. The American people deserve better.”

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Click here to download Senator McSally's speech.

McSally’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President,

I rise today to talk about the importance of the vote we took earlier today on the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. This bill delivers on the needs of the warfighter today and invests in capabilities we must have for the future. I also fought for and secured huge wins for the Grand Canyon State.

As home to 10 military installations, Arizona plays a key role in many missions critical to our nation’s defense. Our bipartisan legislation highlights the incredible contributions that Arizona bases, citizens, and industry make to support our military each and every day.

Since I have been in Congress, I led the fight to stop the A-10 from being mothballed and this bill continues to secure resources needed to modernize the A-10, based at Davis Monthan AFB. We also succeeded in funding a new hangar and barracks at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, and additional F-35s at Luke AFB and Yuma for training and deploying the next generation of F-35 pilots. I also secured funding to upgrade the Barry Goldwater training ranges, and many other Arizona initiatives.

The annual defense bill is about protecting the people who protect us. This year’s bill reiterates to the men and women of our military that we have their backs.

It provides the highest pay raise in a decade and protects military families from greedy contractors who provide their tenants dangerous and unlivable base housing. These contractors -- who act more like slumlords than landlords – will now be required to implement a tenant bill of rights. We also give military families more power in filing disputes and fund additional housing office personnel to ensure families have advocates on base.

I am particularly pleased to see 17 of my 18 reforms to combat sexual assault in the military including in this bill. Earlier this year, I disclosed that I too am a survivor of military sexual assault. After I did, I charged the top leaders at the Pentagon to immediately identify ways to improve the investigation process and support to victims. My provisions increase the number of personnel investigating sexual assault cases and ensure a victim has access to a Special Victim’s Counsel within 72 hours of reporting an assault. These and my other improvements share the goal of getting justice for victims sooner.

The greatest disappointment in an otherwise bipartisan bill is the lack of backfill funding for military construction projects. After unprecedented obstruction by Democrats on border security funding, some resources were diverted to border security projects under authorities legally granted to the President by Congress.

I hear from my constituents all the time in our pro-military and southern border state--we can and must secure our border AND fund our military. Life is full of difficult decisions. This shouldn’t be one of them—for any member on either side of the aisle.

The Senate voted in a landslide bipartisan way (86-8) to fund affected military construction projects in this bill. Then, during conference negotiations, Democrats refused to fully fund these projects due to political games surrounding border security. Think about that: they were against the President diverting the resources to secure the border. So they decided to take it out on our military by refusing to backfill the funding. Our military deserves better. The American people deserve better.

Nevertheless, one of Arizona’s Fiscal Year 19 projects at Ft. Huachuca was stalled for unforeseen environmental issues at the construction site, so it wasn’t ready to spend the FY19 funds we approved for it. This funding would have been diverted to some other purpose in any other year. It could have been funded in FY20, but the Democrats refused to support that. The earliest the project will be ready to start is next summer. The Secretary of the Army has assured me that this project will be in the budget for Fiscal Year 2021, which starts in nine and a half months, following the completion of the environmental cleanup. I will continue to fight for funding for Fort Huachuca and resolve to work hand-in-hand with the Army until this project is complete.

Finally, I have to note that this is the first NDAA that this body has passed in decades without Senator John McCain. I think I speak for members of the Armed Services Committee and this entire Senate when I say that we have felt his absence deeply this past year. While he may not have been physically with us, it still has the fingerprints of his leadership, grit, and ultimate dedication to servicemembers and military families. His memory has propelled us to secure lasting, meaningful reforms for the men and women who serve, whether in uniform, as a family member, or in a supporting civilian role.

This is the 59th consecutive annual defense bill that has been passed. It remains a shining example, for the most part, of what we can accomplish when we work together to protect Americans and support our troops. It was my privilege to bring home these massive wins for our troops and the great state of Arizona.

With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.