Castor Statement on House Passage of Bipartisan NDAA Conference Report, Including Wins for MacDill AFB
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) released the below statement following the passage of the bipartisan, bicameral FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report today in the U.S. House of Representatives:
“Every year, the holiday season presents another reminder of the sacrifice and selflessness of our service members, but nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers must ensure that our military personnel and their families have the tools they need to remain safe and healthy. The 2021 NDAA will boost MacDill Air Force Base and the brave men and women who serve the United States abroad and keep us safe at home, and I am proud to support it.
“The investments I championed for our service members are represented in this year’s NDAA, including a 3 percent pay raise for our troops and a continued commitment to upgrade base housing for military families. Our service members and their families at MacDill are the best and they deserve the best – that means housing that is safe and clean and free from mold and shoddy construction. The NDAA will ensure that the Department of Defense (DOD) continues to improve housing for MacDill families and others across the country.
“As we take the necessary steps to protect Tampa Bay families from climate-fueled threats, I am pleased to see important and smart investments included – investments that will help us reduce pollution, improve water conservation, and prepare our military against the impacts of our warming climate. As Chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, I am committed to boosting resilience in communities across the nation and keeping Americans safe – and that includes our military. I applaud the House Armed Services Committee for adding these sensible solutions, some of which were outlined in the Select Committee Democrats’ Climate Crisis Action Plan.
“Importantly, to allow the airmen at MacDill to continue their vital air refueling mission, the bill also prohibits the retirement of any KC-135 aircraft or the reduction in the number of primary mission KC-135 aircraft. While we wait for more successful tests and successful integration of KC-46’s into our forces, keeping the KC-135’s flying safely is paramount to national security. MacDill’s 6th Air Refueling Wing will remain expert at this for years to come.
“A provision I championed to delay the closing of Sabal Park Community Clinic and prevent the limiting of military families and retirees who have access to the clinic at MacDill was included. This is a major priority for local leaders and Tampa residents and will ensure continued treatment for so many in our community.
“The NDAA also tackles systemic racism that pervades American life by establishing new diversity requirements for DOD, including establishing a Chief Diversity Officer. Thanks to bipartisan cooperation, the bill will also direct the removal of base names and symbols that were established more to intimidate than to honor, which will build on the work I have done to remove Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith from the U.S. Capitol. The bill requires DOD to change the names of all military bases named for those who fought for the Confederate States of America rather than the United States of America, and it prohibits the display of the Confederate flag on DOD installations. Shamefully, the president has made clear his intention to veto these critical funds for our troops if this provision is included in the NDAA. Funding for our troops should not be held hostage so that a lame duck president can stage a political stunt.
“The Congress has enacted a bipartisan NDAA conference report for 59 years in a row and this would be the 60th. Numerous military authorities will expire if a DOD authorization bill is not enacted, and I urge the President to sign the NDAA without delay. Updating the names of military bases is an important step to ensure our armed forces are inclusive for all who want to serve our nation and to honor American heroes who embody the values American soldiers have always fought for.”
The NDAA includes the following priorities for MacDill Air Force Base and Tampa residents:
U.S. Rep. Castor serves as the Chair of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, is a member of the powerful U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee and previously served on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. Her district includes MacDill Air Force Base and is home to U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), two of the Armed Forces’ most important military commands. MacDill Air Force Base’s 6th Air Refueling Wing is the centerpiece of the U.S. Air Force’s Global Vigilance, Global Reach, Global Power mission with its essential functions of aerial refueling. The base’s mission is vital to keeping America safe and ready for any contingencies we may face as a nation.