Today, the Senate Armed Services Committee adopted several amendments offered by U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) during the markup of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013. The amendments--key to Massachusetts military installations, service members and their families--will next be considered by the full Senate. If enacted into law, Senator Brown's amendments would retain the three-star general and key missions within the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base; encourage the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Labs, in partnership with the Air Force, to construct state-of-the-art research labs at Hanscom; and fix an inequity in the military's rules that has robbed deployed Massachusetts National Guardsmen of an adequate housing allowance.
In addition, Senator Brown worked closely with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in sponsoring a successful amendment to halt the planned reduction of Air National Guard units at Otis Air National Guard Base and the proposed transfer of strategic aircraft from Westover Air Reserve Base until further studies are completed.
"By passing these amendments, the Senate Armed Services Committee reaffirmed the importance of what Massachusetts' military, academic, advanced research and defense industrial base resources contribute to our national security," said Senator Brown, who serves on the committee. "In a year full of tough budgeting decisions for the defense community, this is a positive step forward for our bases, their communities and the service members who sacrifice so much every day to keep us safe."
Senator Brown's amendments to the 2013 Defense Authorization bill that were passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee:
Hanscom retains its three-star general and core functions of the Electronic Systems Center:Under this amendment, the Secretary of the Air Force would be required by law to retain the current leadership rank and core functions of the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base with the same integrated mission elements, responsibilities, and capabilities as existed as of November 1, 2011, until 180 days after the new National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force submits a full report to Congress.
Defense Department is strongly encouraged to proceed with the MIT proposal to improve Lincoln Labs at Hanscom: Under this amendment, the Department of Defense and Office of Management and Budget are strongly urged to develop a path forward to permit the Air Force to enter into an arrangement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for improving and modernizing the Lincoln Laboratory complex at Hanscom Air Force Base. As highlighted in an April 20, 2012, Boston Globe story, MIT intends to fully fund construction of a $450 million facility on land that will be leased to the university by the Air Force.
Funding is authorized for Senator Brown's National Guard Basic Allowance for Housing Equity Act [S. 1579]: Senator Brown's provision authorizes $6 million for members of the Massachusetts National Guard and hundreds of other Guardsmen to ensure appropriate Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) or Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) is provided to Guardsmen when they transition between Active Duty and Full Time National Guard duty without a break in service. Currently, a National Guardsman who is mobilized is paid the BAH or OHA based on their home of record and not their permanent duty assignment station. This has drastically reduced the amount of BAH or OHA that a Guardsman is entitled to when he or she deploys. Because of the policy, dozens of Massachusetts Guardsmen are losing nearly $1,000 per month. Senator Brown learned of this inequity from troops on the ground during his National Guard training in Afghanistan in August 2011. He then introduced a bill to solve the problem last September.
The Air Force must suspend planned reductions of aircraft at Westover Air Reserve Base and Air Guard units at Otis Air National Guard Base: Senator Brown co-sponsored an amendment put forward by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) halting the transfer, reduction or elimination of certain Air National Guard units until a study reviewing the impact of the proposed reductions on Air Force capabilities is provided to Congress.
Senator Brown cosponsored several other amendments that were accepted by the Committee, including:
An amendment introduced by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) that would ensure active duty service members have access to fertility preservation in the event they must undergo a medically necessary treatment (for cancer and other serious illnesses) that will lead to infertility.
An amendment introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that would allow, in the case of rape or incest, military health insurance to cover abortion care.
An amendment introduced by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) that would require the U.S. Army to present to Congress its long-term modernization plan for the Patriot air and missile defense system. Acting defense acquisition chief Frank Kendall recently called the Army's strategy for Patriot modernization "critical given U.S. plans to end participation in the [Medium Extended Air Defense System] program."