Senate Passes Defense Bill with Romney Measures to Counter China, Save the Great Salt Lake, and Assist Utahns

Includes Romney’s Great Salt Lake Recovery Act and bolsters efforts to open passport agency in Salt Lake City

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today applauded Senate passage of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 which authorizes funding for our national defense and critical security priorities, ensuring our troops have the resources they need. The NDAA also includes significant provisions Romney fought for, including his Great Salt Lake Recovery Act, a measure that bolsters his efforts to open a passport agency in Salt Lake City, and his legislation to develop a strategy to recycle and recover critical minerals from batteries used in the federal electric vehicle fleet. The NDAA also includes Romney’s efforts to strengthen global health security, support Taiwan, and counter China’s efforts to become the world’s superpower.

“The NDAA is one of the most important pieces of legislation Congress passes, and this year is no different,” Senator Romney said. “This year’s legislation includes protections against threats from China and Russia, measures to bolster our national defense and support our troops, and additional security assistance for Ukraine. It also includes measures which will decrease our dependence on foreign adversaries like China when it comes to our critical mineral supply.

“Importantly, this year’s defense bill also includes several measures which will benefit our state, like the Great Salt Lake Recovery Act, which will complement and elevate the work being done by the State of Utah to develop a permanent solution to save our Great Salt Lake,” Romney continued. “Utah is rapidly expanding as a center for global commerce and tourism and is home to thousands of Latter-day Saints who annually embark on worldwide religious missions—yet Utahns must travel long distances to reach the nearest passport office. I am proud to continue working to see that our state gets a passport agency so we can be better assist Utahns.”

Romney Measures Included in the NDAA:

Strategic EV Management Act of 2022

  • Requires a federal strategy to recycle and recover critical minerals from batteries used in the federal electric vehicle fleet. Authored by Senator Romney and his colleagues, the Strategic EV Management Act ensures that government agencies are properly using and recycling batteries from the federal fleet of electric vehicles.

Additional Authorities for Taiwan

  • Authorizes up to $1 billion per year for Presidential Drawdown Authority for Taiwan.

Passport Agency Report

  • Requires the Secretary of State to review the geographic diversity of passport agencies to identify areas of the country with both high demand and no in-person access, and further requires a strategy for increasing accessibility for large population centers currently lacking agencies. In September, as a part of the Department of State Reauthorization Act, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Romney’s measure to review and report on the geographical diversity of passport agencies.

Great Salt Lake Recovery Act

  • Authorizes $10 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out a Great Basin saline lake monitoring and assessment program for conserving water, and mandates the agency conduct a feasibility study on pipelines and other water-redirecting technologies. The Great Salt Lake Recovery Act builds on Utah’s efforts to address the historic drought conditions of the Great Salt Lake and other saline lakes in the Great Basin.

Learning from the War in Ukraine with Respect to China

  • Requires the administration to issue a report analyzing how Russia’s war against Ukraine has impacted China’s diplomatic, military, economic, and propaganda objectives with respect to Taiwan.

Securing Inspector General Independence Act

  • Requires the president to provide detailed reasons for firing an inspector general (IG) 15 days before their termination, and prohibits placing IGs on administrative leave during that waiting period except for limited reasons, such as posing a threat to governmental interests. Senator Romney is a cosponsor of the Independence and Empowerment Act, which was introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), to bolster IG protections.

Global Health Security

  • Encourages the president to establish a Committee on Global Health Security at the NSC and a special representative for global health security and diplomacy at USAID. This provision is modeled after Senator Romney’s legislation, the Global Health Security Act, to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to global health security.

Arms Export Delivery to Partners and Allies

  • Requires the Secretaries of State and Defense to report on any delayed arms deliveries to partners and allies in the Indo Pacific, including Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand, and New Zealand and U.S. efforts to speed deliveries, as part of an effort to expedite deliveries.

A summary of the FY23 NDAA can be found here.