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Congressman Don Young Fights for Troops, Helps House Pass FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act with Critical Alaska Provisions

Washington, D.C. – Today, with the support of Alaska Congressman Don Young, the House of Representatives passed the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 – legislation to set the annual budget for the Department of Defense. This year’s NDAA also includes the annual Coast Guard Authorization and Maritime Administration reauthorizations. In addition to supplying needed funding for military expenditures, providing a 3% military pay raise, and bolstering natural disaster preparedness, this legislation also includes several provisions of importance to the State of Alaska and Alaska Native communities. Following House passage of the NDAA, Congressman Young issued the following statement:

"I am very proud of this year’s NDAA, and am grateful to everyone involved who fought for our Armed Forces by securing its passage. These are unprecedented times, which makes this year's bill an especially important one. The FY 2021 NDAA takes critical steps to strengthen our national defense, maritime security, provide a well-deserved pay raise for the brave men and women serving in our Armed Forces, and to equip our military with the resources necessary to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. In Congress, relationships are crucial; this year, I worked with my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee to include my amendments, which strengthen communications in the Arctic and take action to turn the tide in the fight against military suicides. My good friend, Senator Ted Stevens, was a steadfast advocate for our great state. I am especially pleased that this year's NDAA makes essential progress to ensure that the Ted Stevens Center for Security Studies becomes a reality. Senators Murkowski and Sullivan have been important partners in establishing the Stevens Center, and I will keep working to ensure that its work goes on to make Ted proud.

If we are to have a first-rate military, we must ensure that we stand by our troops at every turn. This year's NDAA not only gives our troops a three percent pay raise, but it also secures funding for all branches of our military, including our Space Force. Finally, I am proud that the NDAA re-authorizes the United States Coast Guard and Maritime Administration, whose service Alaskans rely on to keep our seas safe and navigable. I am proud to see such broad bipartisan support for our nation's military, which is especially important in these uncertain times. Our servicemembers frequently find themselves on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic; they must be supported. My commitment continues to be the men and women who risk their lives to keep us safe. In Congress, I will always champion their causes and make sure they know that Congress has their backs.”

Congressman Young’s Initiatives Included in the Final House Bill:

  • Ted Stevens Center for Security Studies: Congressman Young’s Floor amendment requires that a plan be submitted to Congress on the establishment of a Regional Center for Security Studies for the Arctic, and, after the submission of the plan, establishment of the center may begin. This is a shared priority with Senators Murkowski and Sullivan.
  • Arctic Deputy Assistant Secretary: This amendment calls for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs to assign responsibility for the Arctic Region to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere or any other Deputy Assistant Secretary that the Secretary considers appropriate.
  • Prevention of Suicide at Remote Locations: Congressman Young worked with Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) of the House Armed Service Committee on an amendment requiring the Department of Defense to complete a study addressing servicemember suicides in remote installations. The study will include an assessment of the availability of suicide prevention information from indigenous populations and graduate research programs in the area.
  • Alaska Military Construction (MILCON) funding: Authorizes $162M in MILCON projects for Alaska.
  • Innovative Readiness Training (IRT): The Conference Report contains language to encourage the DoD to continue utilizing IRT wherever possible, it authorizes $30M for this very important program.
  • Arctic Mission: The NDAA codifies the Coast Guard’s prioritization of its Arctic mission, including the Arctic Search and Rescue mission. Additionally, it prioritizes planning for Armed Forces Arctic domain awareness and readiness capability.
  • Collaboration with Alaska Natives: The final NDAA directs the Commandant to engage with Alaska Native whaling and fishing groups when conducting the Alaskan Arctic Coast Port Access Route Study.  
  • Foreign Adversaries: The NDAA includes language directing the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a report on the Arctic Capabilities of the Armed Forces and how U.S readiness compares to Russia and China.
  • Search and Rescue Capabilities: The bill directs the Commandant to issue a report within 180 days on the Coast Guard’s Search and Recuse capability in Arctic coastal communities. 
  • Maritime Commerce: The bill creates an Arctic Shipping Federal Advisory Committee to provide recommendations on emerging opportunities for Arctic maritime transportation.
  • Maritime Workforce:  The bill strengthens the Maritime Administration’s Maritime Security Program and creates the Tanker Security Program to help ensure the preservation of U.S. flagged and U.S. manned vessel readiness and availability.
  • Unmanned Aviation: The NDAA includes the establishment of a demonstration program through the Coast Guard to assess the feasibility of using unmanned aircraft systems for operations in the Arctic.
  • Icebreakers: The final bill authorizes the following amounts for ship acquisition and procurement in fiscal 2021:
    • $610 million for a Polar Security Cutter (PSC).
    • Authorizes the procurement of three additional PSCs.

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