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California Priorities Included in Defense Authorization Bill

            Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today announced several key California priorities have been included in the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that is expected to pass Congress before the end of the year.

            “In addition to addressing the nation’s national defense needs, I’m pleased to announce the defense authorization bill includes several provisions that are important to California,” Senator Feinstein said. “Congress should approve this bill as soon as possible.”

Military housing

            The bill includes the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act, which was authored by Senator Feinstein in a response to a Reuters investigation and will address serious health and environmental problems in military housing provided by private companies.

            “Military families shouldn’t have to worry about living in unhealthy, dangerous conditions with little recourse to fix the problems,” Senator Feinstein said. “Our men and women in uniform deserve better. These reforms will empower military leaders and families to hold private contractors accountable and ensure that our service members have safe housing.”

Key reforms in the bill:

  • Withholds basic allowance for housing payments to private housing contractors if a service member and contractor are in dispute over housing conditions.
  • Withholds incentive fees to contractors if they fail to remedy health or environmental hazards.
  • Requires contractors to pay for relocations costs if a service member must temporarily leave their home due to an environmental or health hazard.
  • Requires contractors to provide service members access to their electronic work order systems so that tenants can track the progress of their requests.
  • Requires the development of common credentials across the military for health and safety inspectors.

Tribal lands

            The bill places nearly 2,000 acres into trust for Indian communities in California, including 511 acres for the Lytton tribe in Sonoma County and 1,427 acres for the Chumash tribe in Santa Barbara County.

            “This agreement is the culmination of many years of work by both tribes and the local counties.  At long last, the provisions will allow the Lytton and Chumash tribes to establish permanent communities on tribal homelands and serve their citizens,” said Senator Feinstein.

            “I also appreciate that the tribes worked closely with Sonoma and Santa Barbara Counties and that the bill prohibits gaming by the Chumash tribe on lands involved, and by the Lytton tribe anywhere in Sonoma County.”

            Earlier this year, Senators Harris and Feinstein urged their colleagues to include provisions for both tribes in the final defense bill.

Additional highlights:

  • West Los Angeles National Guard Armory: The bill includes legislation authored by Senator Feinstein to allow the armory to operate as a year-round homeless shelter with 150 beds. For the past 10 years, the armory has been used as a temporary overnight shelter only during the winter months due to a stipulation in the armory’s 1957 deed, which this bill modifies.
  • Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake: The bill authorizes $1.1 billion for emergency repairs following significant damage from two major earthquakes earlier this year. Feinstein previously secured $585 million for military construction at China Lake in the Senate-passed defense appropriations bill and recently called on Senate appropriators to increase that amount following new assessments from the Navy on rebuilding needs.
  • Breast Cancer Research Stamp: The bill extends legislation authored by Senator Feinstein to reauthorize the semi-postal stamp, which directs 10 cents from every sale to fund breast cancer research. More than 1 billion stamps have been sold since its creation in 1998, raising more than $90 million for critical breast cancer research.

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