STATEMENT: National Defense Authorization Act Mostly Disappoints, CAP’s Kelly Magsamen Says

Washington, D.C. — Kelly Magsamen, vice president for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response to congressional agreement on the annual National Defense Authorization Act:

This bill is a grave disappointment to Americans who support a more principled and sustainable national defense that is grounded in our democratic values. It authorizes a dangerous and unnecessary new category of tactical nuclear weapons as well as a new Space Force with questionable mission requirements. The bill strips out overwhelmingly bipartisan provisions to impose accountability on Saudi Arabia for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi—yet another stain on America’s reputation.

This bill also does not go far enough in ensuring that the U.S. Department of Defense cannot spend money on President Donald Trump’s ineffective and un-American border wall instead of legitimate global threats. We hope to see this issue addressed seriously by congressional leadership in the appropriations process. And the bill does not go far enough in constraining the Trump administration in line with Congress’ Article I responsibilities. Americans want a strong national defense—but not at the expense of their values and without any real constraints. It is long past time for the United States to rebalance its priorities on national security, including greater investment in the tools of diplomacy as well as our core strength: the American people.

Thanks to the longstanding leadership of progressives in Congress, the bill offers federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave. This brings us closer to achieving a national paid leave policy that covers all family and medical needs and is accessible to all workers.

For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at or 202-478-6327.