Today, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. Ranking Member Mike Turner (OH-10) of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces released the following statement:
“I am proud that we were able to come together to create a strong bipartisan bill to support our troops and provide necessary funding to keep our country safe. There are major wins I was able to include in this bill, particularly $58.5 million in funding for military construction projects at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; modernizing the nuclear triad; limiting Ligado’s ability to cause harm to DoD’s GPS systems; addressing PFAS; advancing diversity and equality within our servicemembers’ ranks; improving military housing; and preventing sexual assault in the military, protecting victims of sexual assault, and prosecuting sexual offenders. I will continue to fight for these issues through the conference process.”
Turner championed the following initiatives that were included in the House passed FY21 NDAA:
- Provides $35 million in military construction funding for an Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program (ERCIP) project to construct an Intelligence Facility Central Utility Plant on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
- Provides $23.5 million in military construction funding for the replacement of the aging and inadequate hydrant fuel system serving the west ramp at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
- Authorizes appropriations for the National Nuclear Security Administration for FY 2021 at $19.85 billion, permitting the Department of Energy, in conjunction with the Department of Defense, to undertake long overdue modernization of our Nuclear Triad, ensuring we have a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear deterrent well into the future.
- Increases funding by $8 million to fund the development of manufacturing processes to support 6.8mm tungsten carbide ammunition for the Next Generation Squad Weapon.
- Increases funding by $7 million for the development of advanced battery technology for laser weapons and to establish domestic battery manufacturing capabilities focused on military requirements.
- Provides $1.03 billion to modernize 89 x U.S. Army Abrams Tanks.
- Increases funding by $375 million for the upgrade of additional Stryker A1 combat vehicles.
- Increases funding by $5 million to fund research to develop lightweight carbon composite wheels and brakes for Chinook Helicopters, enabling increased payload, extended range and/or fuel savings.
- Increases funding by $15 million for Air Force requirements that advance next-generation weapon systems as well as for maintenance and repair of legacy systems, including hypersonics, additive manufacturing, and attritable engines.
- Increases funding by $17.4 million to replace one Gorgon Stare pod set that was lost in combat in 2019 to better support global warfighter Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) demands.
- Increases Air Force research funding for the National Center for Hardware and Embedded Systems Security and Trust (CHEST) by $3 million.
Other Policy Initiatives
- Amends Title 10 to permit the recognition of individuals or entities who donate personal or real property to the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
- Limits the awarding of Department of Defense contracts to entities operating commercial terrestrial communications networks that cause harmful interference to DoD Global Positioning System devices.
- Prohibits the Department of Defense from using funding to retrofit GPS devices necessary to mitigate harmful interference resulting from commercial terrestrial operations using certain band ranges.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to enter into contract with a Federally Funded Research and Development Center to conduct annual studies on the nuclear capacity of foreign states.
- Directs the Department of Defense to conduct an analysis of alternatives on architecture for using regional systems for homeland defense and to leverage previously conducted environmental impact analysis with regards to site locations.
- Directs that any star tracker system procured in connection with a satellite that supports national security, defense, or intelligence needs of the United States be domestically sourced.
United States Space Force Policy
- Directs the Air Force to study the ability of the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) to meet the graduate and continuing education requirements the United States Space Force and to consider expanding this institution as the “Air and Space Force Institute of Technology.”
- Establishes the function and composition of the Office of the Chief of Space Operations.
- Authorizes the Space Force to retain additional highly qualified senior enlisted service members until October 2023.
- Establishes the Chief of Space Operations as the responsible party for the procurement of commercial satellite communication services for the Department of Defense.
- Establishes the Space Force Medal for the recognition of distinguished heroism.
- Authorizes a one-time, $400 uniform allowance for service members transferring to the United States Space Force.
Oversight of the Department of Defense
- Directs the Air Force to report on the feasibility of funding the research activities of the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) AFIT through Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funding sources versus Operations and Maintenance funding.
- Requires Department of Defense notification to Congress for any changes to requirements of the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) program.
- Directs the Department of Defense to report on plans to apportion Gorgon Stare assets as needed to meet Geographic Combatant Commanders’ requirements worldwide.
- Directs the Air Force to report on Counter-Radar Electronic Warfare and Signal Processing Capabilities.
- Prohibits the purchase and operation of certain foreign-made unmanned aircraft systems from countries, such as China, that pose a national security risk.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to publicly disclose the results of any testing for PFAS substances conducted on military installations or formerly used defense sites.
- Prohibits the Defense Logistics Agency from procuring certain covered items including consumable personal items and household goods that contain PFAS.
- Requires manufacturers to disclose all PFAS discharges over 100 lbs.
- Places a moratorium on the incineration of PFAS materials by DoD until the Secretary of Defense finalizes guidance on safe disposal regulations.
- Requires public disclosure of DoD testing for PFAS on military installations and former defense sites within 7 days online and within 30 days in the Federal Register. This is the amended version of the first bullet – maybe combine the two?
- Guarantees servicemembers will not be required to pay any additional cost for blood testing related to PFAS exposure.
- Requires the National Institute of Standards and Technology to conduct a study on the use of PFAS chemicals in firefighting equipment and the risk of exposure faced by firefighters. It also creates a grant program for additional research and improvements to firefighting equipment to reduce exposure to PFAS.
Military Family Housing
- Authorizes reimbursement for losses to personal property if the damage is caused by mold or any other environmental hazard, weather damage
- Directs the Secretary of Defense, health subject matter experts, and surgeon generals to establish a working group to create best practices for mold mitigation in privatized military family housing.
- Increases oversight of government-owned military housing to ensure homes are well maintained, free of hazards, and subject to routine inspections.
- Establishes an Exceptional Family Member Liaison Program to assist military families with navigating the housing services and requirements upon arrival at a new installation.
- Requires the Department of Defense to disclose the criteria and metrics used to analyze the performance of housing companies that receive incentive fees and evaluate the metrics used to analyze the performance of landlords.
- Requires the Department of Defense to report on the status of the recommendations offered by a March 2020 Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report on DoD Oversight and Role in Management of Privatized Military Housing (https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/705552.pdf).
- Directs the Department of Defense to report on the resources they need to recruit and retain sufficient behavioral health professionals to provide quality care to service members and their families and prevent suicide.
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
- Directs the Defense Advisory Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct to review evidence-based studies and efforts amongst private employers to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment in our military ranks.
- Directs the Department of Defense to maintain records of general and special courts-martial, regardless of outcome, for no less than 15 years to guarantee that victims will have access.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to report on the feasibility, advisability, and current practice (if any) of allowing victims of sexual assault who are in an academic setting to be placed in a non-rated period for their performance review.
- Implements a recommendation of the Defense Advisory Committee for the Investigation Prosecution and Defense of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces to standardize and improve the accuracy of reporting data from the services on collateral misconduct discovered in connection with a sexual assault investigation.
- Directs the Judge Advocates General of each Armed Service to report on the effectiveness on Military Justice Reform implemented in 2019 and to offer recommendations for further improvement of the military justice system.
- Directs the Department of Defense to report on the Special Victims Counsel Program, including staffing shortfalls to meet demand for counsels and the feasibility of expanding the program further.
- Directs military service academies to establish separation policies under which an alleged victim and accused minimize interaction allowing for the continuation of their program of study and training, should the alleged victim choose to not transfer—an authority that was enacted in the previous year.
- Codifies the requirement for the DoD to report service members with felony domestic violence convictions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system to ensure they are prohibited from purchasing firearms, even after they are kicked out of the military.
- Directs the Comptroller General of the U.S. to conduct an assessment and submit a report on how the Armed Services investigate cases of servicemembers that go missing.
- Expands the rights of victims of sexual assault and other crimes in the military by guaranteeing accurate and timely notice of any issues on appeal that may impact the interests of the victim.
Diversity and Inclusion
- Directs the Department of Defense to engage a Federally Funded Research and Development Center to study barriers to minority participation in elite units such as fighter squadrons and special forces.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to carry out two-pilot programs—one for increased partnerships between military installations and satellite ROTC units at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), and one to award scholarships for flight training to ROTC members at HBCUs.
- Directs the Superintendents of the military service academies to establish a uniform online portal for Members of Congress to nominate individuals for appointment to each academy to increase transparency in the diversity of nominations.
- Directs the appointment of a Chief Diversity Officer of the Department of Defense.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to establish a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council of the Department of Defense.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to develop policies to ensure women in the military do not face unfair treatment or negative career repercussions due to pregnancy.
- Directs the Comptroller General of the U.S. to conduct a study of women involuntarily separated from the Armed Forces due to pregnancy or parenthood from 1951-1976, include any racial or ethnic disparities, and make recommendation for improving access to veteran resources for those former service members.
- Requires DoD to conduct a pilot partner country assessment on the barriers to female participation in the national security forces; directs the Secretary of Defense to encourage admitting diverse individuals, including women, to each military service academy; and engage with civilian school and nonprofits to support activities related to implementing the Women, Peace, and Security act of 2017.
- Encourages the DoD to consider renaming military bases after female soldiers who have served with valor.
- Requires the Chief Diversity Officer to create a plan to encourage participation by historically black colleges and universities and minority serving institutions in federally funded defense related research, development, testing, and evaluation.
- Directs the DoD to inquire about xenophobia on its workplace climate surveys.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to employee the Express Mail Label for the purposes of expanding absentee voting by active duty military stationed at our embassies and consulates abroad.
- Authorizes members of the armed services serving in locations with limited access to notary services to have documents electronically notarized.
- Directs the Department of Defense to report on the current reporting practices of the armed services regarding the Impact Aid Program, the existing potential for underreporting, and the possible changes in legislative authority to strengthen the program and distribution of funding to military populations.
- Increases military basic pay by 3% percent. This is the first time since 2010 the military has received a 3% pay raise two years in a row.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to report on the Department’s action plan on military spouse licensure reciprocity as well as its strategy to communicate employment opportunities to military spouses.
- Increases efficiency in the defense contracting process by clarifying existing law authorizing a contracting officer to presume that a prior commercial item determination shall serve as a determination for subsequent procurement of components.