Scott Secures Wins in Defense Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, announced his  legislation to address the fentanyl crisis, the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, is included in the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Ranking Member’s bill, which uses economic sanctions to target the financial assets of drug traffickers and Chinese fentanyl suppliers, is now one step closer to becoming law. The legislation’s inclusion in the NDAA is the result of Ranking Member Scott’s efforts to garner 66 Senate cosponsors, highlight the bill in hearings, and secure its unanimous passage at the Senate Banking Committee’s first legislative markup since 2019.

Read more about the FEND Off Fentanyl Act here.

“We must recognize the fentanyl crisis for what it is: a threat to our national security and to the future of our country. The FEND Off Fentanyl Act’s inclusion in the Senate’s defense bill acknowledges this reality and protects Americans from the deadly drug cartels and Chinese fentanyl suppliers who poison our communities. As the Chinese Communist Party challenges America across every domain and dangerous cartels exploit our open borders, it’s time for our country to answer their aggressions with strength by targeting and seizing the money that fuels the fentanyl trade.” 

In addition to his fentanyl sanctions legislation, the Senate unanimously voted to include Ranking Member Scott’s amendment to address the Chinese military’s influence on U.S. higher education in the NDAA. In 2020, the U.S. Department of State warned that the Chinese Communist Party influences academic research and engages in intellectual property theft. The Ranking Member’s bill requires the Secretary of the Treasury to report gifts and grants given to U.S. universities from entities in the Chinese military-industrial complex—a commonsense step to protect American education and sensitive research from malign influence.

“Every year, undisclosed sources within the People’s Republic of China send millions of dollars…to U.S. colleges and universities. The sad fact is we know too little about that. My amendment will be the first step in understanding their impact,” Ranking Member Scott said in a speech on the floor in support of his amendment.

As a result of Ranking Member Scott’s support, other key provisions that counter the threat of the Chinese Communist Party were secured in the Senate’s NDAA. The Ranking Member played a central role in shaping an amendment that requires the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to review national security risks when foreign entities make large purchases of U.S. agricultural land. Chinese entities now hold over 380,000 acres of America’s agricultural land, more than four times the acreage held last decade. Ranking Member Scott was also instrumental in the crafting of an amendment on outbound investment that would require U.S. firms to notify the Treasury Department when pursuing sensitive technology investments and transactions in countries of concern. The amendment preserves U.S. leadership in key industries vital to national security, such as artificial intelligence and semiconductors, while also detecting U.S. investments that could aid America’s adversaries.
Additional Scott provisions and state-related funding expected to be part of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) include: 

  • Senator Scott’s John Lewis Fellowship Act, a bipartisan bill to create a new fellowship within the Fulbright Program for the study of nonviolent civil rights movements, named for civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis;   
  • Senator Scott’s amendment to the Department of State Authorization Act of 2023 requiring the Department to explore alternative methods to fill numerous, long-standing vacancies at U.S. embassies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa— an issue the Senator raised with Secretary Blinken that hinders our ability to counter China and Russia’s expanding influence;
  • Senator Scott’s amendment to theDepartment of State Authorization Act of 2023 requiring examination of U.S. diplomatic language programs to ensure foreign service officers receive the training they need and to prevent the mismanagement of taxpayer funds. 
  • An amendment Senator Scott offered with Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to require the Administration to take a whole-of-government approach to the fentanyl crisis and violence at our southern border through the establishment of an inter-agency coordinator to counter Mexican cartels;
  • An amendment Senator Scott offered with Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to end China’s unfair advantage by requiring the Department of State to oppose any effort to label China as a ‘developing nation’ at international organizations or in future treaties;  
  • A modified version of the Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act, a bill Senator Scott helped introduce with Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to prevent the sale of American crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to our adversaries; and
  • More than $2 billion to support South Carolina military installations and the Savannah River Site, including funding to complete the construction of a new barracks complex at Fort Jackson.  

The FY24 NDAA also provides record funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) HBCU and Minority Serving Institutions Program.