Congressman Panetta Secures Central Coast Priorities in FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act

December 8, 2020
Press Release
Congressman Panetta represented his Committee on Ways and Means and pushed for inclusivity and Central Coast priorities in finalizing the legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) commended the House passage the conference report of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  Congressman Panetta served as a conferee, representing the Committee on Ways and Means to secure Central Coast priorities in the final bill package.  The conference report passed at a margin of 335-78, safeguarding the legislation from a potential veto by President Donald Trump.


“I was honored to be selected to serve as an NDAA conferee so that I could continue to fight for our Central Coast military installations, the thousands and thousands of jobs that they provide for our friends and neighbors, and the $1.4 billion in annual revenue they generate for our local economy,” said Congressman Panetta.  “I was able to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that our Central Coast priorities were included in the final House legislation.  That includes support for military families, housing, education, support for survivors of military sexual trauma, investments to combat the climate crisis, renaming of military bases, and more.  As a conferee, I collaborated with my House and Senate colleagues to ensure that this year’s NDAA represents our Central Coast values, which include the ideals we as Americans hold close for our nation’s prosperity and security.”


Congressman Panetta secured the following initiatives in the FY2021 NDAA:


  • Defense Language Improvement Act: Grants the Defense Language Institute authority to confer a Bachelor of Arts degree in a foreign language – in addition to the currently authorized Associate degree – upon a graduate of the Institute’s Foreign Language Center.
  • Small Manufacturers Cybersecurity Enhancement Act: Assists small manufacturers in the defense industrial supply chain with improving cybersecurity.
  • College of International Security Affairs (CISA): Prohibits the Secretary of Defense from eliminating the College of International Security, nor the Joint Special Operations Master of Arts, without providing Congress an assessment of the impact such action would have on U.S. interests related to counterterrorism and asymmetrical warfare.
  • Military Educational Institution Research Grants: Authorizes faculty at military educational institutions to accept research grants to support scientific, literary, and educational efforts.
  • TRICARE for Maternal Health: Requires DOD evaluate expanded use of TRICARE pregnancy resources for servicemembers and their spouses.
  • NNSA Diversity: Affirms Congressional support for the National Nuclear Security Administration and requires GAO review the hiring, training, and retention of a diverse and highly-educated national security workforce.
  • Privatized Military Housing Contractor Performance Metric Assessment: Requires annual public assessment of contractor performance metrics for privatized military housing – including, tenant satisfaction, maintenance management, project safety, and financial management.
  • SOCOM Preservation of the Force and Families: Enhances support services for Special Operations Forces, their families, and supporting personnel.
  • NPS Space Education: Requires a report on the role of the Naval Postgraduate School in space education.
  • Artificial Intelligence for USSOCOM Small Unit Maneuver: Requires the Director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, in coordination with the USSOCOM Commander, to provide briefing to Congress on an assessment of Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence (ML/AI) technologies to enable operational maneuver, autonomous or otherwise, in highly contested environments with near-peer adversaries.


The FY2021 NDAA also makes critical strides to prevent military sexual assault, remove confederate names from military installations, and improves inclusivity in the Armed Forces. Today’s House-passed NDAA conference report:


  • Requires the establishment of a commission to oversee that all military bases change their names if based on individuals who served in the Confederacy and bans the display of the Confederate flag on all DOD installations.
  • Authorizes military judges and military magistrates to issue military court protective orders.
  • Improves the coordination of support for survivors of sexual trauma between the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Establishes a safe-to-report policy applicable across the Armed Forces allowing survivors of sexual assault, who may have committed minor collateral misconduct, to report assault without of receipt of discipline for collateral misconduct, absent aggravating circumstances.
  • Creates a pilot program on prosecution of special victim offenses committed by attendees of military service academies.
  • Improves confidential reporting of sexual harassment in the Armed Forces.
  • Establishes a Department of Defense Chief Diversity Officer.
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to establish a Diversity and Inclusion council to develop a strategy to increase diversity.
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense and the Secretaries of the Military Services to establish goals for increasing women and minorities in the military services.
  • Creates a Special Investigator to review and investigate racial disparities in the Military Justice System, personnel polies and practice including recruiting accessions, promotions and retention, as well as white supremacist activities among military personnel.
  • Urges the Secretary of Defense to better partner with Hispanic-serving institutions to improve access to science, technology, engineering, and math education and careers for underrepresented populations.


The annual NDAA covers the operations of the Department of Defense as well as the national security functions of the Department of Energy and other related areas.  The annual national defense budget involves millions of military and civilian personnel, thousands of facilities, and hundreds of agencies, departments, and commands.