WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the support of Alaska Congressman Don Young, this evening the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 277 to 147. The bill authorizes $610.5 billion in national defense spending for both domestic and overseas contingency operations, including a 2.1% troop pay increase, efforts to address military readiness and strength, and reforms to protect the health and safety of our military men and women. The House-passed NDAA contains numerous Alaska-focused provisions secured by Congressman Young.
Congressman Young sharing his thoughts on the House passed FY 17 National Defense Authorization Act (click here to watch).
“This year’s NDAA places a major emphasis on restoring strength, agility and readiness to our nation’s military,” said Congressman Don Young. “It permanently halts cuts to our Army force structure – including those facing JBER’s 4-25 – makes critical investments in our personnel and aging platforms, and ensures our bases – barracks, hangars, and runways – are adequately supported to fulfill the mission. We live in a very dangerous world and we must be vigilant in the safety and security of this nation. Alaska continues to play a vital role in safeguarding our freedoms and projecting our influence across the Asia-Pacific. I commend Chairman Thornberry and countless others for recognizing this importance and for supporting the many Alaska focused provisions within this year’s defense authorization.”
Language Secured by Congressman Young in the FY 2017 NDAA:
H.R.4424, the Rural Guard and Reserve Act:
- This bill seeks to eliminate barriers facing rural members of the National Guard and Reserves by reforming an arbitrary reimbursement cap for members traveling to training exercises and activities. Congressman Young introduced the Rural Guard and Reserve Act on February 2, 2016.
Reserve Component Direct Hire Authority:
- This language will allow Reserve Component units, like 477th Fighter group at JBER, to more quickly fill readiness gaps by authorizing direct hire authority for dual-status technicians. Working to streamline the exhaustive and bureaucratic process to hire these technicians, Congressman Young secured this language as an amendment on the House floor.
Galena Land Transfer:
- This language directs the Secretary of the Interior to convey approximately 1,290 acres of public land, the former home of the Campion Air Force Radar Station, to the town of Galena, Alaska for the purposes of ensuring the safety of the town in future Yukon River flood events. This land would be crucial to the future wellbeing of Galena’s residents, as it would allow them to continue to rebuild from the 2013 flooding of the Yukon River without future threats. Congressman Young secured this language as an amendment to the FY 2016 NDAA. This language, along with other land transfer provisions, was dropped during negotiations with the Senate.
HAARP Transfer to University of Alaska and AHTNA, Inc
- This language directs the Secretary of the Air Force to convey the High Frequency, Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) facility to the University of Alaska, and its surrounding areas the AHTNA, Inc.
- Following a 2014 decision by the Air Force to discontinue use of the HAARP facility, the University of Alaska worked to continue its use. Although the University has secured an operational agreement, legislation is necessary to provide for a full transfer of the facility.
- Congressman Young’s request fulfills the Air Force’s desire to relinquish ownership of the HAARP facility and its surrounding areas by authorizing the Air Force to transfer the facility and underlying land to the University of Alaska, and the surrounding areas to AHTNA, Inc.
168th Air National Guard Refueling Wing
- Congressman Young secured an amendment to the FY15 NDAA requiring the Air Force to complete a business case analysis for converting the 168th Air Refueling Wing to an Active Associate Wing. While this analysis was only recently completed, Congressman Young secured language to the FY17 NDAA that requires the Secretary of the Air Force to take into account the basing of two F-35 squadrons at Eielson Air Force base when conducting its business case analysis for converting the 168th Air Refueling Wing at JBER to an Active- Guard unit.
Native American/Hawaiian SBA Section 811 Fix
- Congressman Young successfully included language to repeal Section 811 of the 2010 NDAA, which has had chilling effects on Native owned contractors, and replace it with a commonly used and understood procurement practice for other contracts.
- Young’s language, which was approved in the House passed FY16 NDAA but fell off during negotiations with the Senate, eliminates the confusing and foreign Section 811 five step Justification and Approval (J&A) process for Small Business Administration 8(a) program contracts and replaces it with the a J&A process from the Competition in Contracting Act.
Arctic Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUS-V):
- In order to secure the next generation of Arctic support vehicles, Congressman Young secured report language requiring the Army to present a plan to Congress for replacing the Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUS-V).
- The Army’s SUS-V fleet is used to train and operate in extreme cold weather conditions, providing units with unique arctic capabilities. According to the Army, these vehicles are far beyond their normal service life and have become extremely difficult to maintain.
Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska:
- Congressman Young secured report language requiring a review of state-owned spaceports and the role they play in Department of Defense space launch operations, including the role of the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska.
- State-owned spaceports, like Alaska Aerospace Corporation’s Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska, have played a large role in supporting national security and missile defense launch activities. This language notes the value of these spaceports, and requires the Secretary of Defense to detail opportunities to enhance the capability of these state-owned spaceports to support national security.
Provisions of Alaskan Interest Included in the FY17 NDAA:
- Military Pay Raises: The NDAA fully funds the 2.1% pay raise our troops are entitled to under law, while blocking the President’s ability to reduce troop pay.
- F-35 Procurement: Authorizes full funding for the procurement of F-35A Fighters. This funding continues progress on stationing two squadrons of F-35’s at Eielson Air Force Base, and is critical to ensuring the on-time delivery of these aircraft to Interior Alaska.
- Preserving Army Force Structure, Protecting JBER’s 4-25: Language authorizing Army Active-Duty end strength at 480,000 soldiers. This end strength level would stop the Army’s drawdown to 450,000 troops and eliminate reductions facing JBER’s 4-25. This language is in line with the POSTURE Act, legislation cosponsored by Congressman Young.
- Increases Air Force End Strength: Authorizes 321,000 Air Force Active-duty members, which ensures the Air Force will have sufficient maintainers to support the bed down of F-35s at Eielson AFB and across the nation.
- Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility: The FY17 NDAA continues annual restrictions against transferring detainees from the detention facility at Guantanmo Bay to the United States and building or modifying facilities in the United States for housing detainees. The bill also prohibits DOD from using funds to transfer the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay back to Cuba.
- Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC): Includes a provision explicitly stating nothing in the NDAA should be construed as authorizing an additional round of BRAC.
- Defeating Islamic Extremists: Provisions in this bill reflect the view that U.S. Forces in Afghanistan should not be reduced to below 9,8000 troops and the President’s incremental approach to confronting ISIS cannot achieve his goal of defeating this terrorist group.