Senators: Pentagon request for critical munitions acquisition fund should be in NDAA

A bipartisan group of senators want to include the Department of Defense’s request for a critical munitions acquisition fund to be included in the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The senators, led by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), introduced the Promoting Readiness for Overseas Contingencies and Unexpected Responses to Exigencies (Procure) Act — aimed at ensuring the U.S. has enough critical munition stocks to support allies and partners without depleting American stocks.

The senators said they planned to file the bill as an amendment to the NDAA “in the coming days.”

In a statement, Shaheen said the bill would “provide a more effective way to organize our allies’ procurement of the munitions required to defend against the threats they face.”

“As we have seen in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. has played an invaluable role in providing our Ukrainian friends with significant amounts of munitions to defend themselves — most of which has come from U.S. stocks. The PROCURE Act would ensure the U.S. is prepared to help our allies and partners in times of crisis without undermining our own military readiness,” she said.

Shaheen and Tillis are joined by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

The bill would establish a “critical munitions acquisition fund” aimed at allowing the Pentagon to better manage industry production lines and to help it anticipate the industry’s supply needs.

The Pentagon requested the fund in April as part of the White House’s request for $33 billion in supplemental spending for Ukraine, arguing it would help “procure high-demand munitions in anticipation of supporting sustained contingency operations, deterring potential adversaries, and building critical war reserves by allies and partners.”

A provision establishing a “Ukraine Critical Munitions Acquisition Fund” was included as an amendment in the version of the NDAA passed by the House in July.

That amendment, filed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), authorizes up to $500 million per year for a revolving fund to procure munitions before transferring weapons to other countries in anticipation of sustaining operations in Ukraine.

But Senate appropriators felt differently about the proposal than their Armed Services counterparts.

A report accompanying the Senate Appropriations Committee’s $850 billion defense appropriation proposal says that a Critical Munitions Acquisition Fund is “narrowly focused on procurement of small amounts of certain munitions to be decided in the year of execution.”

“By design, this approach does not address the broader challenges of strategic investment and management of the [Defense Industrial Base] and the supply chain,” it continued.

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