U.S. House, Senate Pass Defense Bill, with Provisions Supporting Georgia

The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed their versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, on July 21 and 23, respectively, that include provisions to support Georgia.

In section 1244 of the USD 740 billion defense bill – sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith [D-WA-9] – the Democrat-led House says Georgia is “a valued friend” of the U.S. that “has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to advancing the mutual interests of both countries,” including the deployment of Georgian forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bill expresses support for “an enduring strategic partnership between the United States and Georgia” and “Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders, and does not recognize the independence of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions currently occupied by the Russian Federation.”

According to the bill, the U.S. should “continue support for multi-domain security assistance for Georgia in the form of lethal and nonlethal measures to build resiliency, bolster deterrence against Russian aggression, and promote stability in the region, by

  • strengthening defensive capabilities and promote readiness; and
  • improving interoperability with NATO forces; and
  • further enhance security cooperation and engagement with Georgia and other Black Sea regional partners.”

It also highlighted that the “European Deterrence Initiative builds the partnership capacity of Georgia so it can work more closely with the United States and NATO, as well as provide for its own defense.”

The bill also added that “Georgia’s participation in the NATO initiative Partnership for Peace is paramount to interoperability with the United States and NATO, and establishing a more peaceful environment in the region.”

In its version of the bill, the Republican-led Senate highlights that “to enhance deterrence against aggression by the Russian Federation,” the U.S. Department of Defense should increase “the frequency, scale, and scope of North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other multilateral exercises in the Black Sea region, including with the participation of Ukraine and Georgia.”

Reaffirming the U.S. support for the open-door policy of NATO, the bill maintains that the Department of Defense should increase its “focus and resources to address the changing military balance in the Black Sea region.”

Senator James Inhofe [R-OK], sponsor of the bill said “right now, the main challenge to our [U.S.] security comes from authoritarian regimes that stand against our values — namely, China and Russia.”

Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani hailed passing the bill by the House, noting that the Defense Authorization Act 2021 serves as yet another proof that U.S.-Georgis strategic partnership is at an all-time high level.

The Defense Act is an annual budgetary legislation that sets defense policies and establishes their funding levels, as well as the agencies responsible for these policies.

The congressional negotiators are expected to spend several weeks to come up with a joint defense bill, which then needs to be passed by both, the House and the Senate, before sending it to President Trump for veto or signature. The White House, however, on Tuesday formally threatened to veto the bill, among others, for its provisions that envisage renaming U.S. military bases honoring Confederate military figures.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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