House Passes National Defense Bill
Washington, D.C. – Alaskan Congressman Don Young today supported the House passage of H.R. 3304, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included a number of provisions he offered to strengthen Alaska’s military. The Fiscal Year 2014 bill authorizes $552.1 billion in spending for national defense, in addition to $80.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations. The bill ensures the continuation of critical benefits promised to our troops like combat pay, in addition to rejecting the Administration’s proposals to increase or establish new TRICARE fees.
“Today, the House of Representatives passed a critical bill that provides for our nation’s military and national defense,” said Congressman Don Young. “This year’s NDAA covers a wide range of Alaska specific issues: prioritizing funding for our nation’s strategic seaports, funding for our missile defense systems, and protections for combating sexual assault in the military. As our nation’s defense priorities shifts to the Pacific, Alaska will no doubt play a critical role in training our soldiers, safeguarding our freedoms, and projecting our nation’s influence in the Pacific and around the world.”
Within the bill are a number of Alaska specific provisions that will modernize and strengthen critical force structure in Alaska, including large increases to missile defense funding. Congressman Young was also able to include three amendments in the House passed NDAA, including one which prioritizes strategic seaports like the Port of Anchorage, and one which begins the process for finding operating efficiencies to keep all of Alaska’s strategically important bases in Alaska for many years to come.
Congressman Young’s Amendments to the FY2014 NDAA include:
- Strategic Seaport Prioritization: In support of U.S. national security requirements, this bipartisan amendment allows the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) to prioritize funding for the 21 DoD-designated strategic seaports (including Anchorage) in the United States.
- Federal and Military Consolidation Report: In order to look for efficiencies, this amendment requires GAO to review the potential of co-locating Federal entities onto military bases, so long as those missions are compatible with the missions of the military installations. This report, which gives special consideration to arctic missions, will focus on federal entities with homeland security, defense, international trade, commerce, and other national security-related functions. This good-government report will provide the foundation to explore new ways in which the U.S. can retain current military installations and still save money.
Alaska Specific Funding and Provisions:
- Fort Greely – Mechanical Engineering Building (Missile Field 1 ): $82 million
- Fort Wainwright – Aviation Battalion Complex: $45 million, Aviation Storage Hanger: $58 million
- Clear Air Force Station – Radar Improvement: $17.204 million
- Missile Defense: Authorizes $9.5 billion for missile defense programs, including those in Alaska. Specifically, this increase will provide $80.0 million for correcting a problem that caused a missile defense flight test failure in July 2013, and $80 million for enhanced kill vehicle and discrimination capabilities. This also includes $30 million to deploy second X-band radar to discriminate against long-range ballistic missile threats from North Korea.
- C-23 Sherpas and C-27: Allows for the transfer of eight C-23 Sherpa aircraft to the State of Alaska, which helps fill a niche search and rescue and medium-lift need on Alaska’s short rural runways. The NDAA also authorizes the Secretary of Defense to transfer 14 C-27J aircraft to the Coast Guard, which is also vital to search and rescue capabilities in Alaska.
Provisions of Note:
- Rejects BRAC and Administration’s TRICARE Proposals: Rejects all the Administration’s proposals to increase TRICARE fees or establish new TRICARE fees. Congress has already put TRICARE on a sustainable path through reforms in several recent NDAAs. Those reforms connect TRICARE fee increases to retiree cost of living increases. The NDAA also prohibits DOD from initiating another round of BRAC.
- Sexual Assault: Includes over 30 provisions or reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice related to combating sexual assault in the military. These reforms include the ability to strip commanders of their authority to dismiss a finding by a court martial, to prohibit commanders from reducing guilty findings to lesser charges, and establishes minimum sentencing guidelines. The NDAA also eliminates the 5 year statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault.