The Senate Armed Services Committee passed a $740.5 billion defense policy bill that creates a new Pacific Deterrence Initiative with $1.4 billion in initial funding to bulk up strength in the region against China.
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2021 also puts the formerly sidelined $1.9 billion Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii back on track with $162 million in funding.
“The best way to protect U.S. security and prosperity in Asia is to maintain a credible balance of military power, but after years of underfunding, America’s ability to do so is at risk,” the committee said in an executive summary released today.
The fiscal 2021 authorization sends “a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is deeply committed to defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific,” the report said.
According to the summary, the $1.4 billion authorization for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative is $188.6 million above the budget request for improvements in missile defense, enhancing forward posture and improving interoperability with allies and partners.
The committee bill, passed 25-2 Wednesday, now heads to the full Senate.
The inclusion of the $162 million authorization reverses the Trump administration’s decision to zero out funding in its budget request for the Hawaii radar, said U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat.
“HDR-H is part of our country’s critical, layered defense. As the United States continues to confront a range of strategic threats in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, it is imperative that all Americans are protected by our ballistic missile defense system,” Hirono, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a release. “Securing full funding authorization for HDR-H was my top priority in the NDAA this year because it will help keep Hawaii safe from external threats. I will continue to advocate for its inclusion in the final, approved package.”
The committee-approved authorization also directs the Department of Defense to utilize fiscal year 2020 funding for the radar and requires the Missile Defense Agency to provide a revised plan with a timeline for completion of the project.