Congressman Roscoe Bartlett applauded the bipartisan approval by the House of Representatives of the annual defense strategy bill. The Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (#FY13NDAA) updates policies for our Armed Forces and the Defense Department. As the chairman of the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces (TALF) of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), Congressman Bartlett led a bipartisan consensus in support of the provisions under the jurisdiction of the TALF. He also wrote a number of significant additional provisions that were added to the bill. The House vote was 299 to 120. The House bill will be negotiated with pending legislation in the Senate to produce a Conference Report that will advance to the President for final approval.
Among amendments by Congressman Bartlett approved as part of the final bill by the House are:
Congressman Bartlett 's amendment was approved that would ensure fair and open bidding by all qualified businesses competing for federal military construction contracts authorized by the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (FY 13 NDAA). Congressman Bartlett's amendment to H.R. 4310 was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 211-209.
Congressman Bartlett said, "Approval of my amendment is an important step to ensure that 90% of Maryland's construction companies which are non-union will have the opportunity to compete and bid in a fair and open process for federal military construction contracts that are authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act. This is a permissive amendment that makes it optional, rather than mandatory to require Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for construction contracts."
Congressman Bartlett's remarks during debate by the full House in support of an amendment by Rep. Tom Petri approved by voice vote as well as additional report language approved by HASC will support the military's ability to benefit from utilization of direct solar lighting technologies to increase the resilience, capacity and security of installations and meet mandates for renewable energy.
Congressman Bartlett's report language directs the Secretary of Energy in consultation with the Secretary of Defense to brief the congressional defense committees no later than December 31, 2012 about existing projects where direct solar devices as well as other energy efficiency technologies listed in the Energy Performance Master Plan have been employed across military installations.
Congressman Bartlett's amendment that was approved by the full House will ensure continued off-road recreational access to Johnson Valley in conjunction with expanding training areas at the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Ground Air Combat Center at Twenty Nine Palms in California. Congressman Bartlett worked on the measure with his colleagues from California, Congressmen Kevin McCarthy, Buck McKeon and Jerry Lewis.
Congressman Bartlett said, "My amendment will facilitate a resolution to accommodate the continuation of a national off-road vehicle race as well as other recreational use of land in the Johnson Valley. With this amendment, these activities and the commerce they generate that contribute more than $300 million to the local community will continue and the Marines' training at Twenty Nine Palms will be improved."
Congressman Bartlett also took action to encourage continued bipartisan support for the military's initiatives for conservation, efficiency and domestic, alternative drop in fuels. He explained, "I introduced and subsequently withdrew a floor amendment to raise attention to the need for bipartisan support to prevent the unintended consequence of some language in H.R. 4310 from impeding the ability for America's farmers and alternative fuels industry to contribute to the long standing and ongoing efforts by our Armed Forces to reduce the vulnerabilities from our reliance upon petroleum and the electric grid with initiatives for conservation, efficiency, as well as research and development to utilize drop-in alternative fuels that will increase the readiness and combat capabilities of our military. Our military leaders are seeking and our combat commanders are supportive of these initiatives because they are saving lives, saving money and providing our warfighters with tools to accomplish their missions."
Congressman Bartlett authored a requirement that the Defense Department must develop a plan to protect Department of Defense critical assets from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and ensure continued operation of critical defense infrastructure independent of the electric grid.
Congressman Bartlett said, "A Defense Science Board (DSB) 2008 report warned that our military's dependence upon our fragile electricity grid is a high priority vulnerability. For instance, it is only a question of when, not if, a geomagnetic storm from our sun will inflict a potentially catastrophic electromagnetic pulse that could shut down key assets of our grid with the largest footprint of any natural disaster. EMP damage can also be caused by weapons. Congress needs the Defense Department to inform us about the specific civilian critical infrastructures upon which a defense critical asset depends (electricity, water, telecommunications, etc.) that, if rendered inoperable by EMP would compromise the function and missions of defense critical assets."
Among provisions in the bill under the jurisdication of TALF, Congressman Bartlett highlighted the following during debate by the full House.
Congressman Bartlett emphasized, "Our first priority is in providing the equipment to support our military personnel serving in Afghanistan and other areas where they may be under threat of hostile actions.
Over $2.0 billion in the President's budget request is recommended to be authorized to address urgent operational needs for the warfighter, to include counter-Improvised Explosive Device requirements.
An additional $500 million is provided for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account.
The TALF provisions would sustain the nation's heavy armored production base by maintaining minimum sustained production of upgrade modifications for Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and Hercules recovery vehicles. The Army's budget request would otherwise result in a production break of 3-4 years for the upgrade of these heavy armored vehicles and negatively impact many small businesses.
Congressman Bartlett said, "The Army has so far failed to provide Congress with documentation that foreign sales will lead to saving and maintaining, rather than shutting down the small business industrial base needed to produce heavy armored vehicles. Maintaining minimum sustained production to retain the valuable work force and supplier base, that would otherwise be lost, and providing our National Guard and Reserve units with compatible vehicles used by our Army's Heavy Brigade Combat teams will provide superior benefits for our military and a better value for taxpayers.
The TALF provisions would also retain the Air Force's Global Hawk Block 30 unmanned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft to support the deployed warfighter.
Congressman Bartlett said, "It makes no sense to take delivery of new aircraft that taxpayers have paid for and place these aircraft in storage, as the Air Force plan would do."