December 16, 2022

ICYMI: Manchin Votes for National Defense Authorization Act, Secures West Virginia Priorities

Washington, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) and secured West Virginia priorities.
“The United States military must be prepared and able to defend our nation from threats at home and abroad,” said Senator Manchin. “This bipartisan legislation is critical to combatting enemies seen and unseen, and includes funding for numerous priorities for West Virginia, including training center support, intelligence gathering at Green Bank and cybersecurity research. I am pleased with the bipartisan efforts on this legislation and the commitment to regular order from my colleagues, and I am proud the Senate overwhelmingly passed this essential legislation that includes numerous provisions for the Mountain State.”
The NDAA establishes the funding levels and creates new programs within the Department of Defense (DoD) annually, passage of this bill marks the 62nd year in a row Congress has advanced this critical piece of legislation. The FY23 NDAA authorizes $857 billion, including $817 billion for the Department of Defense and $30 billion for Department of Energy (DOE) national security programs, which Senator Manchin also oversees as the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
West Virginia priorities included in FY23 NDAA:

  • East Coast Joint All Domain Training Center: Supports a feasibility study to determine the need of East Coast based military units for a modern training facility that can simulate all domains of warfare, and gives special consideration to areas that can transfer land ownership to DoD and zero to minimal cost that are located in areas with economies impacted by a reduction in timber and mineral extraction jobs.
  • Army Interagency Training & Education Center (AITEC): Recognizes AITEC, which is part of the West Virginia National Guard, as the National Guard Bureau lead for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosives and Critical Infrastructure Protection training.
  • Creation of an Irregular Warfare Center: Requires the Secretary to complete a study for the creation and locating of an Irregular Warfare Center to train our personnel and our allies as the lines between conventional and irregular warfare become further blurred in Great Power Competition. This center will greatly benefit our warfighters and support training efforts for events like the Ridge Runner irregular warfare training activity conducted by the West Virginia National Guard.
  • Ridge Runner Irregular Warfare Training Activity: Recommends for the expansion of the Ridge Runner training activity with allies in the State Partnership Program to simulate all domain and full mission profile activities to build interoperability and the capabilities necessary to address irregular warfare challenges. This training activity is ran by the West Virginia National Guard and takes place annually in West Virginia.
  • Next Generation Very Large Array (Green Bank): This language encourages the Department to continue efforts to utilize the Green Bank Observatory for intelligence gathering in space.
  • Future of DoD Operational Energy: Creates an entity within the Joint Staff for the purpose of identifying future energy needs of the Department of Defense with particular attention paid to nuclear, hydrogen, CCUS, battery storage, zero-carbon synthetic fuels, and renewable technologies. It would also identify critical infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission that supply U.S. military facilities.
  • Securing our Critical Minerals Stockpile: This language cuts red tape by allowing the DoD stockpile manager to purchase critical minerals after reporting to Congress, instead of waiting for approval from the Secretary. This will make it easier for DoD to ensure they have a sufficient stockpile which can be purchased from sources such as acid mine drainage remediation efforts in West Virginia.
  • Contracting Transparency for DoD: Requires contractors to justify the cost of items and services sold to the DoD, and gives DoD contractors the authority to request commercial prices for similar DoD items.
  • Pilot program for tactical vehicle safety data collection: directs the Secretaries of the Navy and Army to conduct a pilot program evaluating the use of data recorders to monitor, assess, and improve the operation of military tactical vehicles for the purposes of reducing accidents and injuries.
  • Cybersecurity of Weapons Systems: Requires the Secretary of Defense to carry out assessments of weapons systems vulnerabilities to radio-frequency enabled cyber-attacks.
  • Critical Infrastructure Prioritization: Requires the Department of Defense to provide guidance for the prioritization and coordination of protection for critical infrastructure within the United States, including from cyber-attacks.
  • Applying Blockchain Technology to Cybersecurity: Requires the Secretary of Defense to assess the potential relative utility, value, and relevance of blockchain technology in protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data, networks, and systems at all levels of classification.
  • Cybersecurity Science and Technology Research: Requires Cyber Command to develop a process for identifying, funding, executing, and monitoring cyber science and technology research needs.
  • Cyber Workforce Pipeline: Directs the Director, NSA, to provide a briefing on the workforce pipeline pilot program through certificate-based courses on cybersecurity and artificial intelligence that are offered by Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) universities. This program has been enabling workforce transformation and is showing great promise.
  • Navy Converged Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Encourages the Department of Defense to continue modernization efforts for their ERP business management software development which is ran by IBM with an office at Allegany Ballistics Lab.
  • Supports the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030 Objectives: Requires a minimum of 31 amphibious warfare ships in our fleet; funds unmanned aerial systems for Intelligence, Surveillance, and reconnaissance; and supports weapons for the Marine Corps’ new Marine Littoral Regiment.
  • Marine Highway Program: Authorizes a competitive grant program to develop landside facilities, inland ports, and related infrastructure to support marine highway transportation on inland waterways, including the Ohio, Kanawha, and Monongalia Rivers in WV.
  • Maritime Technical Advancement Act: Authorizes a maritime workforce and training grant program to educational and workforce training institutions to support the technical advancement of the Maritime Industry.
  • Digital Coast Guard Vessel Documentation: Directs the Coast Guard to implement steps to provide commercial and private vessels with digital copies of their registration for verification, which is conducted at the Vessel Documentation Center in Falling Waters, WV.
  • Modernizing Merchant Mariner Credentialing System: Directs the Coast Guard to conduct an assessment on the resources needed and then implement an electronic merchant mariner licensing and documentation system, which will be performed through the National Maritime Center in Martinsburg, WV. The bill also directs the Coast Guard to determine what resources are needed to expedite the application process to not more than 2 weeks following the receipt of an application.
  • Military to Mariners Act: Requires the Coast Guard to issue new regulations intended to make it easier for veterans and service members to transition the skills, training, and experience they received during their service toward endorsements for a merchant mariner credential.
  • National Nuclear Security: enables the National Nuclear Security Administration to competitively hire individuals to meet our national security needs, enables the use of new technologies to eliminate proliferation threats, and strengthens the ability of our national labs to construct new facilities to support national security objectives.
  • Fair Hiring in Banking: The bill replaces the lifetime ban on working in the financial services sector with a seven-year waiting period for individuals with minor criminal records. Additionally, it will create an exception for acts committed before age 21 and at least 30 months prior to employment and clarify that an individual with a criminal record that is expunged, sealed or pardoned will no longer need to seek a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) waiver before securing employment. The inclusion of this legislation will open up employment opportunities for a number of non-violent, non-sexual offenders across West Virginia.
  • 2022 Water Resources Development Act: Makes significant changes to USACE policies and authorities to benefit projects across West Virginia. This includes studying potential hydropower at existing USACE facilities, increasing access to environmental infrastructure programs, and helping to advance projects like the Lower Mud Flood Risk Reduction project.