WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, issued the following statement after voting to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020 (S. 1790). The House of Representatives passed the final bill by a vote of 377-48. Readiness Chairman Garamendi was appointed as an NDAA conferee again this year to help negotiate the compromise with the Senate and signed the conference report for the final bill on Monday. The Senate is expected to pass the NDAA so the President may then sign it into law.
This legislation includes the largest pay raise for our service members in a decade. As chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee, Garamendi secured the strongest possible language to:
- Help the military respond to the effects of climate change and reduce its energy consumption.
- Address the privatized military housing crisis that was forcing military families into substandard living conditions on bases throughout the country.
- Expand health care services for service members and veterans experiencing medical issues as a result of exposure to toxic hazards during their service.
- Authorizes $181 million in new funding for construction projects at Travis and Beale Air Force Bases.
“This NDAA strengthens our national defense and advances a variety of critically important issues,” Garamendi said. “The legislation includes the largest expansion of the American safety net since the Affordable Care Act by providing all federal employees with 12 weeks paid parental leave. The bill also strengthens health care services for veterans, includes the largest pay raise for our service members in a decade, empowers the military to address the threat of climate change, and resolves the privatized military housing crisis that’s impacting military families.”
“This is a strong piece of legislation that will strengthen our nation, but there are still several issues we must address in the future. This year, the President raided $6.1 billion from critical military construction projects to pay for his border wall. We must restore Congress’ power of the purse to ensure future military construction projects are protected and properly funded. I will also be working in future NDAA’s to end the escalating nuclear arms race the United States is engaged in and reduce our nation’s bloated nuclear weapons program,” Garamendi continued.
“I am grateful for the work my fellow conferees and Armed Services Committee members contributed to help develop the strongest NDAA I’ve supported during my tenure in Congress. I’m pleased that this legislation has passed Congress and is expected to become law,” Garamendi concluded.
An overview of the key provisions Garamendi successfully included in the final NDAA are listed below:
Confronts the Climate Crisis
Garamendi included provisions in the NDAA to ensure the U.S. military is prepared respond to and address the global climate change crisis by:
- Requiring the development of installation master plans that assess current climate vulnerabilities and plan for mitigating the risks to installations from extreme weather events, mean sea level fluctuation, wildfires, flooding, and other changes in environmental conditions.
- Limiting the Department of Defense’s ability to spend planning and design funds until it initiates the process of updating building standards for military construction (Unified Facility Criteria) to ensure that building practices and standards promote energy, climate, and cyber resilience at military installations.
- Requiring all military construction projects to consider potential long-term changes in environmental conditions, increasingly frequent extreme weather events, and industry best-practices to withstand extreme weather events and improve resiliency.
- Requiring the Department of Defense to report on the feasibility of transitioning installation planning from 100-year floodplain data to a forward-looking predictive model that takes the impacts of sea-level rise into account.
Supports Veterans and Service Members Seeking Health Services
The NDAA also includes key provisions from Garamendi’s bipartisan “OATH Act” (H.R.261), which ensures active-duty military personnel and veterans can accurately document toxins they were exposed to while deployed, such as burn pits during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so they can receive VA treatment for any health issues stemming from that exposure.
Garamendi also successfully added the “Tricare Reserve Select Improvement Act” (H.R.613), to the NDAA. This bipartisan bill extends eligibility to all National Guardsmen and Reservists, regardless of their civilian occupation, for TRICARE Reserve Select, a low-cost health insurance program for military service members and their families. It would take effect January 1, 2030, and this bipartisan legislation was introduced by Congressman Trent Kelly (R-MS) with Congressman Garamendi as an original cosponsor.
Addresses the Privatized Military Housing Crisis
Garamendi included critical provisions addressing unhygienic and dangerous living conditions thousands of military families are subject to in privately constructed military family housing. The legislation establishes a “tenants’ bill of rights” to hold private housing contractors accountable for developing safe on-base housing for service members and their families. As Readiness Chairman, Garamendi led a Congressional delegation in April to study the impact unsafe privatized military housing is having on service members and their families.
The legislation addresses problems with the management and oversight of military family housing by:
- Requiring the military services to have a tenants’ bill of rights for residents of privatized military family housing that includes the following elements:
- Prohibition on reprisal by either the private partner or military chain of command.
- Provision of a housing advocate that is not co-located with or employed by the private housing contractor.
- Dispute resolution mechanism and a mechanism for withholding rent payments where appropriate during the dispute resolution process.
- Prompt provision of maintenance by qualified personnel and effective communication regarding the status of their work orders to include access to an electronic work order management system.
- Professional and courteous property management services
- Information about known and potential hazards at time of home selection, to include mold, lead, rodent infestation, and history of sickened residents.
- Prohibiting the use of non-disclosure agreements for entering into, continuing, or terminating a lease for on-base privatized military family housing.
- Supporting funding to hire civilian personnel to provide additional oversight and management of military family housing and require a report on the manpower requirements and execution plan to appropriately staff military housing office.
Funds Military Construction Projects to Meet Travis and Beale Air Force Bases’ Priorities
- $6.6 million for KC-46A ALTER B181/B185/B187 SQUAD OPS/AMU to make the required changes to facilities on base for Travis to fulfill a new role as a home for the new KC-46A tanker aircraft.
- $19.5 million for KC-46A Regional Maintenance Training Facility to provide full scale training necessary for maintaining the new KC-46A aircraft.
- $64 million for the Alert Force Complex that needs to be improved to adequately support a detachment that plays a critical role in ensuring survivable, endurable and reliable communications from the President Secretary of Defense to the nation’s strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems.
- $17 million for additional updates to improve the antiquated Mechanized Material Handling System at Travis.
- $40.5 million for a 230/60kV Interconnection and Transmission System, funded through the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program (ERCIP), to improve resilience and power supply on the installation, which are critical in supporting the missions at Beale.
- $33.7 million for the Hydrant Fuel System to replace and modernize the critical underground pressurized fuel system and storage tanks that are currently obsolete and non-compliant.
Protecting U.S. Infrastructure from Chinese State-Owned Companies
Garamendi successfully advocated for a provision in the final NDAA that would end U.S. taxpayer subsidies to Chinese state-owned companies that are manufacturing passenger rail cars and transit buses in the United States and posing a risk to the U.S. economy and national security. This provision is based on the “Transit Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act” (H.R.2739), of which Garamendi is an original cosponsor.
Directs New Military Resources to Fight Wildfires
Garamendi also successfully secured a provision in the final NDAA strengthening Congressional oversight so that the Pentagon allows the National Guard to readily use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to track wildfires, perform search and rescue efforts, and assist in other efforts to combat emergencies in California and throughout the nation.
Supports Domestic Shipbuilding and Maritime Industries
Garamendi secured key provisions in the final NDAA to support America’s shipbuilding industry and maritime workers by:
- Implementing “Buy American” requirements for grant funds awarded under the Maritime Administration’s Shall Shipyard Grant Program. This will bolster domestic manufacturing and create new middle-class jobs.
- Strengthening Congressional oversight of the Department of Defense’s continued reliance on foreign-flagged civilian vessels for refueling and supplying the U.S. military, at sea. This July, Congressman Garamendi sponsored bipartisan legislation to recapitalize the domestic shipbuilding industry, including the construction of new oil tankers that could support the U.S. military: “Energizing American Shipbuilding Act” (H.R.3829).
- Ensuring that departing service members and veterans can properly credit their military sea service toward earning a Merchant Mariner Credential needed to sail US-flagged vessels.
- Requiring the Department of Defense to continue to recognize civilian-issued Transportation Worker Identification Cards (TWIC) for workplace access to military maritime terminals and other installations.
- Designating the California State University Maritime Academy (Cal Maritime) as a national center of excellence for maritime education and training.
Engaging U.S. Military to Tackle Wildlife Trafficking Linked to Extremism
Garamendi also secured a provision encouraging the U.S. military to contribute to the American government’s efforts to combat illicit wildlife trafficking, which is linked to terrorist and extremist groups particularity in Sub-Saharan Africa. In late January, Congressman Garamendi also sponsored the bipartisan “Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act” (H.R.864), to advance American leadership in tackling the global poaching crisis and transnational criminal organizations driving conic wildlife to extinction.
A summary of the key provisions within the conferenced NDAA can be viewed here.
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