UPDATE: Pence tweets praise for military bill he voted against multiple times, releases statement

9 a.m. UPDATE: Pence statement on vote against the National Defense Authorization Act confirming he voted against the legislation.

In the statement, Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., says he made an amendment to extend the cybersecurity pilot program at Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex as part of the legislation, but then voted against the bill on principle because of “liberal wish-list items,” effectively canceling his support for his own amendment and the programming.

The National Defense Authorization Act authorized $740 billion in military programs and construction and provides a 3% pay raise for U.S. troops, improvements for military housing, among other things. Congress has approved a version of the bill for nearly 60 years in a row.

Pence voted against the National Defense Authorization Act and voted to support a veto of the bill by then-President Donald Trump. The bill became law not with the support of Pence or Trump, but by an override of the veto by Congress, which Pence sided with the former president and supported the veto.

Statement provided by Milly Lothian, Communications Director for Rep. Greg Pence

“Congressman Pence was proud to author Pence Amendment #043 on July 14th, 2020 to H.R. 6395, the William  “Mac” Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2021.  The Amendment extended by two years the sunset date for Section 1651 of the FY 2019 NDAA pilot program on Regional Cybersecurity Training Center for the Army National Guard.  The Pence Amendment was adopted by Voice Vote on July 21, 2020 and included in H.R. 6395 which was enacted into law on January 1st, 2021.  Congressman Pence was proud to work with the Indiana National Guard on this Amendment that will establish a National Guard Training Center to provide collaborative interagency education and training for Members of the Army National Guard.  Camp Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex is the natural place for the Center. Congressman Pence and General Lyles will be working closely on this project to ensure its success.  
 
Only in Washington will you find a bill as straight forward as the NDAA eventually larded up with liberal wish-list items that made it impossible for Congressman Pence to support final passage based on principle.  Pence has routinely supported the Indiana National Guard including voting for the Omnibus spending bill in 2020 which actually funds the Guard and included a 3% pay raise for the troops.  The Indiana Democratic Party’s pattern of deception and lies just continues as usual.  They have no shame.”

 

ORIGINAL STORY:

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The Indiana Democratic Party said Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, tweeted false information in which he appears to take credit for legislation benefiting the National Guard that he voted against multiple times.

On Tuesday, Pence tweeted that he was “proud” that former President Donald Trump “signed into law” the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021, which the congressman also suggested in a press release provides funding for a cybersecurity pilot program at Camp Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex.

Federal records show that Pence voted against the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021 on July 21 and against a conference report on the legislation on Dec. 8.

Trump, however, did not sign the bill into law, instead vetoing it on Dec. 23. Five days later, the House voted 322-87 to override the veto, but Pence was the only House Republican from Indiana to vote against overriding the veto, meaning he was voting against the bill. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-Indiana, did not cast a vote.

The former president had rejected the bill, saying it failed to limit social media companies he claimed were biased against him during his failed reelection campaign, The Associated Press reported. Trump also opposed language that allows for the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate leaders.

The bill became law on Jan. 1 after the Senate voted 81-13 to override the veto. Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, voted in favor of the veto override, while Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana, voted against it, federal records show.

The National Defense Authorization Act authorized $740 billion in military programs and construction and provides a 3% pay raise for U.S. troops, improvements for military housing, among other things. Congress has approved a version of the bill for nearly 60 years in a row.

On Wednesday morning, the Indiana Democratic Party accused Pence, who represents Indiana’s Sixth District which includes Columbus, of trying to “mislead voters from his actual voting record.”

“Unfortunately, this move by Pence is kind of standard to what he and a lot of other Hoosier Republicans have been doing as of late, which is to ignore facts, ignore truth and trying to spin it in any way to distract voters from their actual records,” Drew Anderson, spokesman for the Indiana Democratic Party, told The Republic.

The Republic contacted Pence’s office, asking to clarify the comments about the 2021 legislation and a press release sent out on Tuesday in which the congressman made similar statements about supporting the National Guard, its programs and the defense authorization bill.

The initial response from Milly Lothian, Pence’s communication director, was to ask for The Republic’s sources. Neither Pence nor his team responded any further.

Pence’s office issued a press release Tuesday stating that he had met with Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, on “the establishment of a Cybersecurity Training Center at Camp Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex.”

In one instance, the press release claims that the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 is the funding source for the training center, but incorrectly states that it was signed into law earlier this year. The 2020 bill was signed into law by Trump in December 2019, and Pence voted in favor of it.

But later in the press release, Pence is quoted as saying, “Camp Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex are critical components to our national security. …I am proud to have this program signed into law by President Trump in the 2021 NDAA earlier this year.”

Neither the 2020 nor the 2021 legislation explicitly mentions a cybersecurity training program at Camp Atterbury or the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, though the 2021 bill mentions an extension of a “pilot program on regional cybersecurity training center for the Army National Guard.”

The 2021 bill also provides $12 million in funding to the Army National Guard for a military construction project in Shelbyville, which congressional records show Pence voted against.

Master Sgt. Jeff Lowry, public information officer at Camp Atterbury, said he was unaware of any new cybersecurity training centers or cybersecurity programs at Camp Atterbury and had sought clarification from Pence’s office.

Master Sgt. Brad Staggs, public affairs officer at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, said the cybersecurity training center has been around for several years, including a cyber battalion, but is constantly being updated and has “never had the proper amount of funding it needed.”

“We do have a cyber battalion now in Indiana, which trains at Muscatatuck. We hope that this will become bigger than what it is,” Staggs said.

Staggs was unsure of how the training center is funded and deferred questions about the press release to Pence’s office.

The Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, which used to be a self-contained state hospital for mental patients, provides training for soldiers and civilians to learn to deflect cyberattacks against many types of systems, such as civilian water and energy systems.

The complex offers a wide variety of industrial and residential building on 1,000 acres, and conditions of a town affected by natural or man-made disasters can be replicated. It also offers an integrated, managed cyber-physical environment called “Cybertropolis.”

In October, the Indiana National Guard announced that it had activated a cyber protection battalion of nearly 100 “citizen-soldiers” based in Indianapolis who “focus on protecting military networks and service members from internet-based and online attacks.”

Mark T. Esper, former secretary of the U.S. Army, visited the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex in 2018.