On Tuesday December 20th, 2012, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4130, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA). The legislation, which is the version that came from the House and Senate Conference Committee, includes provisions that Congressman Jon Runyan (R-NJ) introduced and advocated for as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. This legislation included the authorization for a site for the Gold Star Mothers National Monument on federal lands as well as multiple projects benefitting Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL).
"I am pleased that this legislation is finally moving on and should become law very soon," said Congressman Runyan. "The Fiscal year 2013 NDAA provides much-needed funds for our nation's security and the men and women defending the United States. The inclusion of legislation to authorize the use of federal lands for the National Monument for the Gold Star Mothers is a fitting tribute to the mothers of our nation's fallen warfighters. Projects that would improve the Joint Base's infrastructure were also included and I look forward to working with the base to ensure these projects are completed in a timely manner."
Congressman Runyan has been a long time supporter of the Gold Star Mothers, an organization that recognizes the mothers of servicemembers who were Killed in Action (KIA). Mrs. Judith Young of Moorestown, a constituent who lost her son Jeffrey in the Marine Barracks bombing in Lebanon in 1983, helped inspire the provision. Mrs. Young is past President of the National Gold Star Mothers and current Chairwoman of the Gold Star Mothers National Monument Foundation. The legislation that was included in the NDAA to authorize the use of federal lands for a Gold Star Mothers National Monument was originally introduced as a stand-alone piece of legislation by Congressman Runyan: H.R. 1980 the Gold Star Mothers National Monument Act of 2011. Through the hard work of Congressman Runyan, the legislation was included in the House version of the FY 2013 NDAA and resulted in the authorization of use for federal lands in the final version of the conference report which should be signed into law.
"On behalf of the Gold Star Mothers National Monument Foundation I am thrilled that legislation was included in the conference report," said Mrs. Young. "I would like to thank Congressman Runyan for his hard work on moving this monument one step closer. This would not have been possible without his efforts. This is a great day for all the mothers that have lost a child defending our great nation."
The NDAA also provides $32.67 Million in Military Construction funding for the Navy's Combat System Engineering Development Site (CSEDS) co-located at Lockheed Martin Moorestown. The funds will allow Lockheed Martin and the United States Navy to continue their work to improve the CSEDS technology.
Included in the NDAA was an authorization of funds in the amount of $7.4 Million for the building of an Army Reserve facility on JB MDL. The facility would house an automated infantry squad battle course for the training of the Army Reserves.
Congressman Runyan continued his efforts for wage grade pay parity for civilian employees at JB MDL and other military installations. Congressman Runyan worked to include report language in the FY 2012 NDAA that would fix this inequity. The report language in the FY 2013 House version of the NDAA renews the commitment from the Armed Services Committee to solve this problem. This wage grade pay parity report language became binding with House passage of the original bill.
"There is no doubt that Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst plays a vital role to both our national security and the economic security of South Jersey. I have been honored to represent a majority of the base and its warfighters for the last two years. I look forward to continuing my efforts on the House Armed Services Committee to ensure the base continues to grow."
Congressman Runyan is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, where he serves on the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces and the Subcommittee on Readiness. He also serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.