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House Passes DOD Authorization, AAMC Supports Medical Personnel, Foreign Influence Provisions

December 12, 2019

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Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs
Christa Wagner, Senior Legislative Analyst

The House of Representatives Dec. 11 passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 (NDAA, S. 1790), a bill to authorize $735 billion in spending for the Department of Defense (DOD), by a vote of 377-48.

Included in Sec. 719 of the joint House-Senate Conference report to accompany S. 1790 is language to “limit the realignment or reduction of military medical manning” positions, or medical billets. This language was developed in response to the president’s FY 2020 DOD budget proposal to reduce the number of military medical billets by approximately 18,000.

AAMC Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD, sent a Dec. 10 letter to House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders, sharing the AAMC’s concerns about the potential loss of thousands of military medical professionals, and supporting the committees’ inclusion of Sec. 719. Ms. Fisher noted, “The proposed reduction in military medical FTE threatens to drastically cut the number of DOD medical faculty and their time available for teaching, furthering straining the capabilities of military medical education and their civilian academic medicine partners.”

The House-passed NDAA also includes two sections related to foreign government influence in research. Sec. 1746 includes text of H.R. 3038, the Securing American Science and Technology Act, which is supported by the AAMC and would “establish an interagency working group to coordinate activities and develop policy guidance to protect federally funded research and development from foreign interference” [see Washington Highlights, May 31].

Sec. 5713, Oversight of Foreign Influence in Academia, requires the Director of National Intelligence to submit a report to Congress related to foreign influence in research and its impact on national security. The report would include a list of sensitive research subjects; a list of foreign entities deemed a “threat” related to the defined sensitive subjects; a list of known or suspected attempts of foreign entities to influence academia; and recommendations for collaboration within academia.

The Senate is expected to vote on the House-passed NDAA to send to the president’s desk before the holiday recess.

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