Annual Defense Bill Including Commerce Committee Priorities Clears Senate

December 11, 2020

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today released the following statement after the Senate passed the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains commerce-related provisions. The bill includes the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019, HACKED Act, CYBER LEAP Act, Industries of the Future Act, Spectrum IT Modernization Act, MARAD Reauthorization Act, and 11 other bills reported out of the Commerce Committee.

“Our nation’s investments in research, development, and innovation have made the U.S. a global leader in science and technology,” said Wicker. “This year’s NDAA would support the advancement of next-generation technologies and generate cutting-edge breakthroughs in cybersecurity. The bill would also authorize funding for the Coast Guard through 2021, bolster its recruiting, retention, and childcare programs, and improve the competitiveness of America’s maritime industry. I am pleased that these important measures are included in the NDAA.”

Committee priorities included in the NDAA:

Major Provisions of S. 2297, Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019

  • The Coast Guard Authorization Act will provide retirement pay parity with the DoD Armed Forces for Coast Guard members and their families. The legislation will also help the Coast Guard recruit and retain a 21st century workforce through a number of reforms including temporary promotion authority for officers with high-demand skills, a temporary separation program to allow professional development in the private sector, and direct commissioning authority for individuals with critical skills.
  • The bill will also direct regular assessments of available unmanned maritime systems for potential use for Coast Guard support missions and require the Commandant to establish a testing area for the development, training, and testing of unmanned aircraft systems for the Coast Guard.
  • The Coast Guard Authorization Act was introduced on July 25, 2019, and approved by the Committee on July 31, 2019.

S. 3191, The Industries of the Future Act of 2020

  • The Industries of the Future Act will require the Administration to develop a report on the research and development programs of the federal government that focus on Industries of the Future. The legislation will require a plan for doubling the baseline investments in such industries by 2022 and a plan for increasing civilian spending on Industries of the Future to $10 billion by fiscal year 2025. The bill will also require the Administration to propose legislation to implement such spending plans. 
  • The Industries of the Future Act was introduced on January 14, 2020, by Wicker and Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Gary Peters, D-Mich. The bill was unanimously approved by the Committee on March 11, 2020.

S. 2775, the Harvesting American Cybersecurity Knowledge through Education (HACKED) Act of 2019

  • The HACKED Act is intended to improve the cybersecurity workforce of public and private sectors. Among other things, it will codify the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s role in advancing cybersecurity workforce programs, incentivize recruitment of cybersecurity teachers through an existing scholarship program, improve metrics to measure cybersecurity workforce needs of local communities, and identify clear paths for various cybersecurity roles.
  • The HACKED Act was introduced on November 5, 2019, by Wicker and Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., John Thune, R-S.D., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev. The bill was unanimously approved by the Committee on November 13, 2019. 

S. 3712, Cybersecurity Competitions to Yield Better Efforts to Research the Latest Exceptionally Advanced Problems (CYBER LEAP) Act of 2020

  • The CYBER LEAP Act will direct the Secretary of Commerce, in coordination with relevant agencies, to establish challenges to achieve high-priority breakthroughs in cybersecurity. The legislation will require the Secretary  to pursue cash and non-cash prize competitions.
  • The CYBER LEAP Act was introduced on May 13, 2020, by Wicker, Rosen, and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. The bill was unanimously approved by the Committee on May 20, 2020. 

S. 3717, Sec. 1084, Spectrum IT Modernization Act

  • The Spectrum IT Modernization Act will require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and other federal agencies to outline a plan for modernizing the information technology infrastructure used for the management of federal spectrum.
  • The Spectrum IT Modernization Act was introduced on May 13, 2020 by Wicker and Cantwell and approved by the Committee on May 20, 2020.

Major Provisions of S.3930, Maritime Administration (MARAD) Reauthorization Act

  • This legislation will codify part of President Trump’s Ocean Policy and elevate the National Ocean Partnership program, which facilitates research collaboration between federal agencies.
  • The legislation will also create the Tanker Security Fleet, authorize the Maritime Administration Programs, increase opportunities for USMMA cadets on Cable and Tanker vessels, and create a set-aside for small ports in the MARAD Port Intermodal improvement Program.
  • The MARAD Reauthorization Act was introduced on June 10, 2020.  

Other Committee bills included in the NDAA:

  • S. 999, Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development
  • S. 1558, Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act
  • S. 1611, Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act
  • S. 2525, Guaranteeing Equipment Safety for Firefighters Act of 2019
  • S. 2693, Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement (READI) Act of 2020
  • S. 2786, Arctic Shipping Federal Advisory Committee
  • S. 2894, Federal Maritime Commission National Shipper Advisory Committee Act of 2019
  • Major Provisions of S. 3079, FAA and TSA Family and Medical Leave Act
  • S. 3189, USA Telecommunications (ORAN) Act
  • S. 3771, Fundamentally Understanding the Usability and Realistic Evolution (FUTURE) of Artificial Intelligence Act of 2020
  • S. 3891, Advancing Artificial Intelligence Research Act of 2020