Manchin Votes To Pass The National Defense Authorization Act
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a vital piece of legislation that will provide our military with the means necessary to defend our nation.
“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, taking care of our servicemembers and their families is one of my most sacred responsibilities. No piece of legislation is ever perfect, but this National Defense Authorization Act is vital to the safety and security of our great nation and our interests around the world. This defense package includes funding to support our West Virginia servicemembers and facilities, our troops, and the defense of our nation. I am particularly excited that it honors our servicemembers and their families by repealing the ‘widow’s tax’, including a much needed pay raise, and addressing the unique challenges faced by those serving in the National Guard and Reserve. This bill also includes critical funding towards West Virginia youth programs like STARBASE and Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy. I am also proud to have secured important protections against foreign influence in our critical infrastructure and new responsibilities for prime contractors that will strengthen our nation’s industrial base cybersecurity. Although the cost is high, I believe the investment in our servicewomen and men, and our overall national defense, is worth the price.”
The NDAA authorizes a total of $738 billion. First and foremost, this legislation authorizes resources for our men and women in uniform and their families:
- 3.1 percent pay increase for servicemembers, the largest increase in a decade.
- Repeal of the “widow’s tax”. Senator Manchin has helped lead the effort to repeal this faulty federal duplication of benefits formula that penalizes families for investing in the Survivor Benefit Plan. This commonsense provision will save impacted families up to $1,000 per month.
- Reserve Pay Parity. Senator Manchin recognizes that every drill weekend, training exercise, and deployment, West Virginia’s reserve component members – like the 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group based out of Kenova and Kingwood, WV – take on incredible risk to protect our country, and they deserve equitable pay for their service. This provision that Senator Manchin authored requires the Department of Defense to review the pay discrepancy between active and reserve component members. It is consistent with the stand-alone bill Senator Manchin has introduced that would require equal pay for equal work.
- Caring for Members of the Guard and Reserves. To ensure that members of the Reserve Component receive the care and support they deserve, Senator Manchin directed the Department of Defense to analyze the unique challenges associated with their service. This includes the deployment patterns and the difficulty members of the National Guard and Reserves encounter post-deployment with respect to accessing comprehensive behavioral and mental health treatment in civilian communities.
- Tricare Reserve Select for members of the selected reserve beginning after December 31, 2029. Ensuring that every Reservist and National Guardsmen can have the option to tap into Tricare Reserve Select, regardless of their employment status, has been a priority of Senator Manchin’s since 2016. Getting the authorization into statute is a significant victory for the well-being of the individual servicemember and the overall readiness of the reserve component. Expediting the effective date for this authorization will continue to be a priority for Senator Manchin.
- Overhaul Privatized Military Housing. Senator Manchin supported the inclusion of a Tenant Bill of Rights that sets a minimum acceptable livability standards and bans the use of non-disclosure agreements as a part of the move-out process. While West Virginia’s Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are serving at military bases around the country, they deserve safe, well cared-for housing. Ensuring quality housing for our Servicemembers is not just a readiness issue—it’s a moral issue.
This legislation also includes protections against dangerous foreign influence in our critical infrastructure, new responsibilities for major federal cyber contractors that will strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses, essential investments in our National Guard and Reserve components, and other vital national defense priorities:
- Cybersecurity – Holding Major Federal Contractors Accountable. Since taking over as Ranking Member of the Cybersecurity Subcommittee, Senator Manchin has been a leading voice pushing for the Department of Defense to hold prime contractors accountable for the cybersecurity practices and protocols of their subcontractors. This language—for the first time—is making the Department of Defense define what the prime contractors’ responsibility should be when it comes to the cybersecurity of its supply chain. This is an important step in ensuring that companies that receive billions of taxpayer dollars for defense contracts do not shirk their responsibility in keeping American intellectual property and investment secure. Senator Manchin has a reputation of speaking hard truths, and he will continue to do so when it comes to the defense industrial base.
- Promoting Domestic Sources of Rare Earth Elements. As Ranking Member of the Energy and Natural Resources and as a member of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Manchin believes that ensuring our defense industrial base has access to the REEs it needs to design and build the most advanced weapons and technology is a top priority. This legislation requires the Department of Defense to evaluate possible substitutes for REEs and develop a strategy to encourage the mining, refining, and processing of REEs in the United States or from a trusted ally.
- Securing the Defense Industry from Foreign Influence. Senator Manchin continues to support the prohibitions against Huawei and ZTE and the language in this bill that instructs the Secretary of Commerce to leave Huawei Technologies on the entity list of the Bureau of Industry and Security. There is additional language that requires the President to submit an annual report to Congress on the compliance of the ZTE Corporation with regards to a settlement agreement reached with the Department of Commerce. Since identifying the security risks posed by both Huawei Technologies and the ZTE Corporation, Senator Manchin has continued to monitor and ensure the influence of these two foreign companies does not penetrate U.S. national security.
- Language on limits on certain rolling stock procurement. In the U.S., Chinese state-owned companies have used subsidized bids to win contracts in major cities across the country to manufacture metro cars. This amendment will limit federal transit funds from being used to line the pockets of the Chinese government and ensure that proper cybersecurity standards are in place for public transit in the U.S. It is consistent with the Transit Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act of which Senator Manchin is a cosponsor.
- Youth Challenge and STARBASE. Senator Manchin knows how these vital programs have positively impacted the youth of West Virginia and fought to include over $260 million to support these civil military programs in this bill. As Governor, Senator Manchin oversaw the construction of a new facility for ChalleNGe Cadets at Camp Dawson. Since its inception in 1993, the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy has graduated over 4,000 teens. In FY18, West Virginia STARBASE academies and programs served over 3,500 kids. The life changing successes of these programs and the impacts they have on communities in all 55 counties make them a high priority every year.
- An increase of $55 million to procure for C-130 NP 2000 propellers. This will help procure C-130 NP 2000 propellers to replace aging propellers and keep America’s servicemembers safe, like those serving at the 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston.
- Conference report modified Senate burdensome language regarding National Guard inspection authorities and National Guard fiscal property officers. Language regarding allowing the National Guard Bureau to withhold funds to a Guard contingent upon compliance with federal law was changed. As a former Governor and supporter of the National Guard, the modification of sections 1036 and 1038 and removal of section 1037 in the Senate bill were a priority to Senator Manchin.
- The National Guard can now use Defense Environmental Restoration Account Dollars for PFAS clean up. After it took years to secure PFAS clean up dollars for Martinsburg, Senator Manchin has pushed the Department of Defense to give state-owned reserve component bases access to the same Defense Environmental Restoration Accounts that active duty bases use. This amendment should prevent communities like Martinsburg from ever having to endure the bureaucratic rigmarole to clean up PFAS and keep their community safe.
The bill also includes other critically important provisions:
- Provides 12 weeks of paid parental leave to all federal civilian employees. For the first time, federal employees will have 12 weeks of paid parental leave. This language will impact the nearly 20,000 federal employees in West Virginia.
- Addition of language requiring domestically produced stainless steel flatware and dinnerware to the Berry Amendment. This important Buy American provision is important to ensuring companies, like several in West Virginia, have the opportunity to compete for important government contracts.
- Requirement of the Department of Defense to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on the risks of nuclear and radiological terrorism. As ranking members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a member of the Senate Armed Services committee, Senator Manchin believes we need a whole-of-government approach to mitigating national security risks imposed by nuclear and radiological terrorism. This study will help inform US agencies to better allocate resources to protect US Citizens from the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism.
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