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Garamendi Secures Key Wins in House-Passed National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, voted to pass the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The annual legislation provides the legal authority for all aspects of the United States military, including all personnel, installations, and equipment used in our national defense. The legislation passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 316 to 113 and will be conferenced with the Senate’s version of the legislation before heading to the President’s desk.

As Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, Garamendi formally added the Readiness Subcommittee’s NDAA provisions to the full legislation. Garamendi also secured funding in the legislation for several key projects at Travis and Beale Air Force Bases in his Congressional District. Specifically, the legislation includes $114 million for runway improvements at Travis Air Force Base as well as $33 million for Beale’s 940 ARW Squad Operations & Maintenance Complex. Additionally, Garamendi helped secure $20 million in Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) planning and design funds to help build facilities like the Multi-Doman Operations Complex, which is critical to the continued operations at Beale Air Force Base.

“While I am disappointed that the U.S. House of Representatives voted to increase the Defense Department budget by $23.9 billion over the President’s Budget, I am pleased that we have once again come together to address critical issues facing our service members and the more than 1,000 military installations worldwide,” Garamendi said. “As Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee, I worked to build upon previous efforts during my tenure as Chair to require the military to be an ally in the fight against the climate crisis, and to take the necessary steps to protect bases and service members from the effects of climate change. I also built upon previous Readiness Subcommittee bills to aggressively address PFAS contamination around military installations that harm our service members and neighboring communities. This issue is close to home for me, as PFAS contaminants were found at Travis Air Force Base in my district.

“This NDAA includes strong provisions to address the precipitous rise in military training deaths we’ve witnessed throughout the service branches in recent years. I’ve held three hearings on this matter as Chair of the Readiness Subcommittee, including a May 2021 hearing that included powerful testimony from bereaved families of service members who were lost due to preventable training mishaps. The Readiness Subcommittee’s contributions to the NDAA would transform the culture of neglect into a culture of safety by establishing a joint safety council and mishap investigation review board to provide oversight of training mishaps and enact policies to prevent further incidents in the future,” Garamendi continued.

“I’m also pleased that several of my amendments to the legislation to unlock new military resources to help fight wildfires were adopted on the House floor. As California’s wildfire season continues to become longer and deadlier, all available military resources should be utilized to help track and fight fires. I’m pleased that several of my amendments to achieve that goal were added to this legislation,” Garamendi continued.

“This NDAA also includes robust language to assess childcare facility needs throughout the military to ensure military families have the good-quality childcare infrastructure they deserve. It also updates the ‘Tenant’s Bill of Rights’ that was established through a previous Readiness Subcommittee bill to provide service members and their families with proper recourse if they have been subjected to substandard on-base living conditions,” Garamendi continued.

“Throughout the NDAA markup process, I fought to support several ‘Buy American’ amendments that were introduced at the hearing to ensure the military uses American materials and workers to the extent possible. I’m pleased that several of those provisions were included in this legislation,” Garamendi continued.

“Finally, I appreciated the opportunity to debate my amendment on the House floor that would slow the development of the $264 billion Ground Base Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) missile program that is slated to replace the still viable Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in underground silos in the Midwest. The GBSD program is an unnecessary and costly mistake at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer, and further precipitates the modern nuclear arms race between the United States, Russia, and China. My amendment acknowledges the facts and advice from various experts in this field and saves billions of dollars that can be spent to address more worthy defense needs. It also helps reset U.S. nuclear modernization policy, which greatly exceeds its deterrence requirement and will only worsen if planned modernization programs like GBSD continue. While I am disappointed that my amendment was not ultimately added to the legislation, I appreciate the opportunity to add the facts surrounding the GBSD to the Congressional Record, and the opportunity to debate this important matter on the House floor,” Garamendi concluded.

Specifically, this year’s Readiness Subcommittee’s contributions to the NDAA address:

Climate Change and Resiliency:

  • Installation Master-planning: Requires each military department to complete installation master plans at two of their most at-risk installations within one year of enactment.
  • Microgrids: Requires the Department to amend the DOD building codes to require consideration of microgrids early in the planning process; and, encourages the department to renegotiate contracts related to existing on-installation renewable energy projects to enhance installation resiliency during power disruptions.
  • Energy Efficiency Targets for Defense Data Centers: Requires the Department to assess energy and water usage at existing data centers and set conservation goals for new data centers.
  • Required consideration of climate vulnerabilities in organic industrial base reporting:  Adds a climate and extreme weather facility resiliency assessment to the existing annual reporting requirement on the health of the organic industrial base.
  • EV Charging Infrastructure on Military Installations: Requires the Department to include EV charging infrastructure needs in their planning for new domestic military construction; requires the Department to adopt industry standard planning considerations in the development and roll-out of charging infrastructure at military installations.

Quality of Life Infrastructure, Family Housing, and Working Mothers

  • Assessment of Childcare Facilities’ Needs: Requires the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment to report and provide a list of domestic facilities and average facility childcare waitlist, assess efforts to find solutions and reduce wait times, assess the extent to which staffing availability impacts childcare availability, and assess whether including childcare facilities in agreements for new private housing would be an effective solution.
  • Officer and Enlisted Housing Conditions: Encourages the services to ensure that maintenance response times are handled in a diligent and timely fashion regardless of whether the tenant is an enlisted or officer service member.
  • Improvement of Child Development Centers and Child Care for Military Families: Requires the military departments to conduct safety inspections and develop 10-year facility improvement plans for child development centers.

Preventing Avoidable Training Deaths and Building a Culture of Safety:

  • Joint Safety Council: Establishes a Joint Safety Council within the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense that advises the Deputy Secretary on all operational safety matters, establishes safety standards, collects and analyzes safety data, and develops safety priorities.
  • Mishap Investigation Review Board: Addresses challenges with the quality and objectivity of the services’ mishap investigations by directing the Deputy Secretary of Defense to develop a proposal for the establishment of a Mishap Investigation Review Board, which would provide oversight and independent review of mishap investigations.
  • Implementation of Comptroller General Recommendations on Preventing Tactical Vehicle Training Accidents: Requires the Secretaries of the Army and Marine Corps to develop a plan to address the recommendations contained in GAO’s recent report on tactical vehicle mishaps.

Environmental Restoration and PFAS Policy:

  • AFFF Spill Prevention: Requires the Department of Defense to review current practices to prevent or mitigate AFFF spills and promulgate best practices for spill prevention and mitigation, enterprise-wide.
  • National Guard Access to Defense Environmental Restoration Funds: This provision would facilitate the use of these funds for all environmental restoration activities involving the National Guard.
  • Public Disclosure of Results of DOD Testing for PFAS: Builds on provisions from previous NDAAs to increase transparency with defense communities impacted by PFAS contamination.

Contested Logistics and Operational energy:

  • Contested Logistics Working Group: Requires the Department to create a working group of program planners, energy staff, joint staff, and geographic combatant commands to enhance integration of military department energy initiatives into operational planning and platform development.
  • Operational Energy: Requires the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment to report on alternative fuels including hydrogen; mandates a holistic review of the associated production, transportation, geopolitical, commercial, R&D, and performance issues of alternative energy.
  • Global Bulk Fuel Management and Delivery: Requires the Secretary of Defense to designate a Combatant Command as the agency responsible for global bulk fuel storage, delivery, and distribution; directs the so-designated Combatant Command to conduct a strategy on the infrastructure and programs necessary to optimally support global bulk fuel management of the Department of Defense.

Improvements and Clarifications Related to Military Working Dogs: Amends section 2583 of Title 10, United States Code, and directs the Department to pay fees associated with the transfer of adopted dogs to the adoption agency or individual; amends section 708 of the Fiscal Year 2017 NDAA and directs the inclusion of veterinary care and services into the Joint Trauma Education and Training Directorate.

Burn Pits: Prohibit the use of open-air burn pits during overseas contingency operations unless an exemption is issued by the President of The United States for a particular location. Thirty days after an exemption is granted, the President would be required to submit a report to Congress detailing the location, size, duration, and need of the burn pit, the number of personnel assigned to the location, and the personal protective equipment or other methods that will be used by those personnel to mitigate the health effects of said pit.

Garamendi also successfully added several amendments to the NDAA at today’s hearing:

Wildfires: Garamendi successfully added the following amendments to the legislation to allow U.S. military assets to be used in the fight against wildfires throughout the nation:

·Garamendi #17: Directs the Department of Defense to implement its own recommendations on improving use of unmanned aircraft systems by the National Guard, from Congressionally directed review/report.

·Garamendi #96: Requires the DOD to include the accounting of costs for wildfire response in the annual budget request to Congress, including military support for states and FEMA/federal land management agencies. Current law only requires DOD to account for climate adaptation and mitigation costs on U.S. military installations in the President’s annual budget request.

·Garamendi #97: Removes arbitrary cap on the number of excess military aircraft that DOD may transfer at no cost to DHS (FEMA) or the U.S. Forest Service for firefighting. Current law only allows DOD to transfer 7 excess military aircraft. Requires annual report to Congress by DOD on transfers of excess military aircraft authorized by prior NDAA’s.

·Garamendi #98: Requires DOD/OMB to review existing authorities for using Air Force and Air National Guard modular airborne fire-fighting systems and other military assets to fight wildfires. Then requires update to the 2004 Congressionally directed report on any changes to the law needed to enhance those authorities.

Garamendi also supported an amendment offered by Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-CA24) that reauthorizes the FireGuard program with the National Guard to use satellite tracking technology to track and fight California’s wildfires.

Civil Reserve Air Fleet: Garamendi also successfully added an amendment to the legislation that strengthens transparency and oversight of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) by requiring an annual report of the fleet. The amendment codifies the current DOD policy requiring military personnel and cargo transported by commercial airlines to be on chartered aircraft certified for safety by DOD’s Commercial Airlift Review Board.

Creating Local Jobs: Garamendi is a cosponsor of Congressman Andy Kim’s (D-NJ) “Put Our Neighbors to Work Act” (H.R.6764), which was added as an amendment to the legislation. This bill would create more local jobs for military construction projects by increasing transparency and awareness of military construction projects of over $250,000. In addition, a preference will be given to contractors within the same state, or within 60 miles of the construction project.

Honoring Veterans: Garamendi successfully added an amendment to the legislation that authorizes the Maritime Administrator to use appropriated funds to purchase duplicate medals authorized under the Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2020. This honors the Congressional Gold Medal—one of our nation’s highest honors—to the Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II.

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