Press Release

Rep. Castor Statement on Passage of Bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act and Pay Raise for U.S. Military Service Members

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Washington, September 23, 2021 | comments

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) released the following statement upon passage of the bipartisan FY22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):

“The men and women in uniform who serve our country, including at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, deserve the support necessary to meet ever-changing national security threats. This bipartisan defense bill will bolster our national security and invest in new, innovative technologies to maintain America’s competitive edge over our adversaries including Russia and China.

“Investments that I championed for our service members are included in the bill, including a 2.7 percent pay raise for our troops and an air purification assessment for base housing and other on-base facilities. This follows up on my work to ensure that housing is safe and free from mold and shoddy construction – Congress is committed to continuing to ensure that housing is improved for MacDill families.

“Congress is hard at work crafting transformative legislation to help Build Back Better and protect families from increasing climate-fueled threats, so I am glad to see many climate-forward investments included in the NDAA. By providing the Department of Defense funds to help us reduce pollution, improve water conservation and protect military communities from PFAS ‘forever chemicals,’ and prepare our military against the impacts of our warming climate, our nation will be safer, and our military members better prepared to protect and defend.

“Funding that I championed for Special Operations Forces also is contained in the bill, including an increase in funding to mitigate undiagnosed, untreated traumatic brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The NDAA will also invest in the Joint MISO WebOps Center (JMWC), which I visited earlier this year at MacDill AFB, to help modernize their work in the global information space.

“Over the years, our Afghan allies have worked with U.S. troops at great personal risk to themselves, and we must fulfill our promise to provide them safety in our country after years of their loyalty and service. Substantial funds are allocated to assist our allies and at-risk Afghans in the days ahead, an important measure of respect for those who have been faithful partners to our military over the years.

“Following up on the establishment of new diversity requirements for the Department of Defense, including the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Council, and direction to change the names of military bases named after Confederate soldiers last Congress, this year’s NDAA takes further action to meet this moment and ensure our military is reflective of our nation. This includes the establishment of a basic needs allowance for low-income service members to ensure their families are taken care of while they serve our nation. Importantly, we also increase the allowable parental leave for primary and secondary caregivers, including foster parents, and an expansion of the in-home child care pilot program and financial assistance for in-home child care. These are important steps to serving our service men and women as well as they serve us. I look forward to swift, bipartisan passage of this year’s NDAA and the enactment of initiatives to better serve our nation’s heroes at MacDill and around the globe.”

The NDAA includes the following priorities for MacDill Air Force Base and Tampa residents:

Meeting the Needs of Our Troops and Our Military Families

Providing A Pay Raise for Our Troops

  • Builds on previous attempts to close the pay gap by funding a 2.7 percent pay increase for our service men and women.

Basic Needs Allowance for Low-Income Service Members

  • Authorizes the Secretary of Defense to pay a basic needs allowance to a qualified service member.

Parental Leave for Service Members

  • Increases the allowable parental leave for primary and secondary caregivers, including foster parents.

Child Care

  • Expands the in-home child care pilot program, providing financial assistance for in-home child care.

Exceptional Family Members

  • Establishes an Exceptional Family Member Program Advisory Council to better support military families who have members with special needs.

Impact Aid

  • Authorizes $50.0 million for the purpose of aiding local educational agencies with military dependent students, and $20.0 million for local educational agencies eligible to receive a payment for children with severe disabilities.

Enhanced Protection Against Debt Collector Harassment of Servicemembers

  • Prohibits a debt collector from using unfair or threatening practices in connection with the collection of debt from servicemembers and veterans.

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)

  • Requires a report by the Department of Defense on family size within the military, including if BAH accurately assesses the needs of military families.

 

Climate and Energy

  • Authorizes combatant commander initiative funds to be used for the purpose of enhancing extreme weather resilience of infrastructure.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to incorporate consideration of the risks of extreme weather into certain existing Department of Defense strategies and planning documents.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to institute a process for ensuring accurate and effective analytical tools are used to project life-cycle costs and performance potential of energy resilience measures.
  • Directs the Secretary of Defense to carry out a pilot program to implement mitigating actions to address vulnerabilities in defense critical electric infrastructure.

 

Addressing the Scourge of Extremism

Countering Extremism

  • Establishes an Office of Countering Extremism responsible for training and education about extremist activities; data collection and analysis; and countering extremism within the Department of Defense.

Afghanistan

  • Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIV): Expresses the sense of Congress about the importance of the program and honoring our commitments to those Afghan partners, who at great personal risk, supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.  Further clarifies legislation with regard to Afghans and their families who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
  • Authorizes $500 million for Department of Defense relocation support to SIVs and at-risk Afghans.
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to provide in-depth reports and briefings to Congress, providing critical information on the U.S. ability to counter terrorism in Afghanistan, accountability on the military equipment left in the country, and the plan to rescue American citizens and Afghan allies who remain in the country, ensuring transparency and ongoing oversight of the security situation in Afghanistan.
  • Provides for a sense of Congress recognizing the men and women of the Armed Services for securing Hamid Karzai International Airport and supporting the largest Noncombatant Evacuation Operation in United States history.  The sense of Congress also recognizes the ultimate sacrifice of the 11 Marines, the sailor, and the soldier who gave their lives for this mission.

Congressional Oversight of the Use of Force

  • Requires the President to submit a report to Congress not later than 48 hours after any incident in which the United States Armed Forces are involved in hostilities, if the incident was not otherwise recorded under the requirements of the War Powers Resolution or pursuant to an authority for the use of force that was reported to Congress under section 1264 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.

Counter-ISIS & Counter-Terrorism

  • Continues U.S. military support to our partners in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS, while directing the Secretaries of Defense and State to submit security cooperation and security sector reform plans for U.S. military partners in Iraq.

Making Historic Changes to the UCMJ In Order to Better Combat Sexual Assault in the Military

Special Victims’ Prosecutors

  • Removes the Commander from decisions related to the prosecution of special victim crimes: creating an Office of Special Victim Prosecutor within each Service and ensuring their independence by requiring they directly report to the Service Secretary. The provision also defines the role of Special Victim Prosecutors and special victim offenses.  Special Victim Offenses includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, and all offenses against a child under the age of 18, among others.
  • Criminalizes sexual harassment and violent extremism under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Racial Disparities

  • Requires improved reporting requirements on demographics of offenses under the UCMJ.

Improving Military Health Care

Post-Partum Care Improvements

  • Requires a pilot program in support of post-natal care, to include pelvic health rehabilitation, and the issuance of policy guidance to develop and to implement standard protocols across the Military health System to treat obstetric hemorrhage.

Mental Health

  • Directs the Department of Defense to create a program to provide direct assistance for mental health appointment scheduling at military medical treatment facilities and clinics, with a reporting requirement to the Armed Services Committee.
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