Lamborn appointed to conference committee reconciling defense policy
BY ERNEST LUNING firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gazette, Colorado Springs
LOCAL & STATE
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn has again been named to sit on the conference committee that will work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act. A 16-year member of the House Armed Services Committee, the Colorado Springs Republican was appointed this week by House Speaker Kevin Mccarthy to serve as a “core conferee” on the panel, which is expected to produce a reconciled version of the sweeping, $866 billion military policy and spending bill before the end of the year. The defense policy bill, known as the NDAA, is separate from defense appropriation legislation making its way through Congress this month ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the federal government. Mccarthy said in a statement that Lamborn has “worked tirelessly to ensure that our military has the resources it needs to keep America safe.” “His experience as chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, where he has championed legislation to strengthen our nuclear capabilities, deter threats, and keep America ahead of our adversaries, will be essential to the success of the NDAA Conference,” Mccarthy said. Lamborn was elected last year to a ninth term representing the El Paso County-based 5th Congressional District, which boasts one of the highest concentrations of military facilities in the country, including Space Command, NORAD, Peterson and Schriever space force bases, Fort Carson and the Air Force Academy. This year marks the sixth time Lamborn has been a member of the conference committee for the annual bill. He sponsored or co-sponsored more than 50 provisions in the bill this year. Among the bills highlights, Lamborn said, are a 5.2% pay raise for military personnel — the largest in decades — and policies designed to strengthen the country’s deterrence posture, including a provision pushed by Lamborn to establish the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile as a program of record. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that the FY24 NDAA prioritizes hypersonic development, bolsters America’s nuclear deterrent and advances missile defense capabilities while addressing the pacing challenges posed by our adversaries,” he said in a statement. Considered must-pass legislation, the NDAA is typically approved by both chambers with broad, bipartisan support. Reconciling the two chambers’ versions of this year’s bill, however, could pose more of a challenge than usual after House Republicans attached numerous amendments on divisive social issues, including measures targeting the military’s policies on service members’ access to abortion and diversity. Democrats and a handful of Republicans opposed the House version of the bill, which passed on a narrow 219-210 vote. The Senate version of the bill, which didn’t include the social policy amendments, passed, 86-11. Lamborn said this summer that, while he supported the version passed by the House, he anticipated voting for the legislation that emerges from the conference committee if it’s in line with the leaner version that passed the House Armed Services Committee on a nearly unanimous vote. Other core conferees appointed by Mccarthy include U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, who chairs the armed services committee, and U.S. Reps. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Elise Stefanik of New York, Jim Banks of Indiana, Matt Gaetz of Florida and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. “I am confident that these House Republicans will help bring both chambers of Congress together to produce a bill worthy of that mission,” Mccarthy said in a statement announcing his slate of appointments. “These men and women understand how pivotal this legislation is to keeping America safe, building and maintaining strong relationships with our allies, and promoting peace around the world — I am proud to have such qualified individuals providing their leadership toward this incredible task,” he added. The Senate has yet to select its conferees.