Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5515 the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. Alaska Congressman Don Young issued the following statement of support after the bill’s passage:
“Every year, Congress passes the NDAA which authorizes our national defense spending for both domestic and overseas operations. This year’s bill ensures our military readiness by inventing and investing in new technology, war fighting tools, and increased number of troops,” said Congressman Young. “This year, I worked with my colleagues in the House and my Senators to ensure Alaska benefits from this year’s NDAA since Alaska offers so much to our military. I secured a number of amendments in the bill to help improve how our defense agencies are operating and carrying out their missions. One of my amendments will help clear the massive clearance backlog at the Department of Defense, which has impacted the American economy and especially small businesses. For our small businesses that are trying to be competitive in the federal contracting sector, this backlog has been detrimental.”
Watch Congressman Young's remarks here.
Congressman Young continued, “Because of Alaska’s strategic geographical location, we must ensure that our soldiers are adequately prepared for the unique conditions in the Arctic which is why I offered Arctic specific provisions. My amendment to update the Defense Department’s Arctic Strategy to improve and enhance joint operations was approved and this is crucial to our national security. This update is important because it will provide a more current assessment of Russia’s aggressive buildup of military assets and infrastructure in the Arctic as well as China’s growing efforts to influence Arctic policy. Additionally, this bill makes critical investments in missile defense and our nuclear deterrent, which is the cornerstone of our national security. I am proud of the fact that this bill will ensure our troops are properly trained and have access to the tools and resources they need to keep our country safe. This year’s NDAA prioritizes our strategic readiness, rebuilds our infrastructure, takes care of our troops and their families and allows our country to remain a global leader.”
H.R. 5515 passed by a vote of 351-66 with strong bipartisan support.
The bill would authorize Defense programs at the Pentagon and other departments to receive $708.1 billion in discretionary funding. The measure also covers $9 billion in mandatory funding for a total of $717 billion. The authorization would include $639.1 billion in base funding and $69 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations funding. Nuclear programs at the Energy Department would be authorized to receive $22.1 billion. The measure’s authorization levels would support a 2.6% pay raise for the troops, additional ship building, aircraft procurement, and research activities. It also includes a number of provisions related to treaties with Russia, defense health programs, and military space operations.
Language Congressman Young Secured in the Bill
- Enlisted/Warrant Officer Pilot: This provision requires the Secretary of the Air Force provide a briefing on their plan to implement the enlisted pilot aircrew requirements for drones, which was authorized in the FY 17 NDAA. Furthermore, it also directs Secretary of the Air Force to submit a report on the costs, benefits, and feasibility of authorizing enlisted Airmen or Warrant Officers as pilots, navigators, or weapon systems operators on all Air Force aircraft or rotorcraft platforms. This is intended to help with the current pilot shortage the Air Force is facing.
- Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs): This provision directs the Secretary of the Army to provide a briefing on the strategic alignment decision matrix and installations plan for the fielding of the SFABs. The plan shall include an assessment of the feasibility and advisability of stationing SFABs appropriately to address the requirements of the geographic combatant commands. It also recognizes that future SFABs should highly encourage an expansion of alliances and partnerships as called for in the 2018 National Defense Strategy.
Floor Amendments Congressman Young Secured
- Background Investigations: Directs the Secretary of Defense to expedite DoD compliance of requirements relating to reciprocity of security clearance and access determinations per Section 3001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. This amendment is designed to clear the massive backlog at the DoD.
- Arctic Strategy: Directs the Secretary of Defense to report on an updated Arctic Strategy to improve and enhance joint operations. The report shall also include an assessment of Russia’s aggressive buildup of military assets and infrastructure in the Arctic, as well as China’s efforts to influence Arctic policy.
- Arctic Survival Training: Directs the Secretary of Defense to engage with local indigenous communities for their traditional knowledge when developing Arctic survival curriculum.
- KC-46: Calls for a sense of Congress that the Secretary of the Air Force as part of the strategic basing process for the KC-46 should continue to place emphasis on and consider the benefits derived from locations outside the Continental U.S.
Alaska Specific Victories
- Supports the President’s budget request for the F – 35 Joint Strike Fighter and authorizes 77 aircraft. The bill also authorizes the Department to procure additional F-35 aircraft, if additional funds become available, utilizing cost savings and program efficiencies.
- Authorizes $360 million for Stryker Upgrades – like those at Ft. Wainwright.
- Authorizes $63.8 million for military construction at Eielson AFB for the F – 35A Facilities.
- Authorizes $130 million for military construction at Clear AFS for the Long Range Discrimination Radar System Complex.
- Authorizes $14 million for military construction at JBER for an Operations Facility Replacement.
- Authorizes $27 million for military construction at JBER for the National Guard.
- Supports the President’s request for missile defense and adds $140 million to the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) for development of critical directed energy, and Space sensing projects, and the acceleration of hypersonic defense capabilities.
- Includes a Sense of Congress for the U.S. to continue to explore and deploy capabilities that increase the layered defense of the United States.
- Includes a Sense of Congress on the legacy, contributions, and sacrifices of American Indian and Alaska Natives in the Armed Forces.