Congressman Jim Bridenstine voted to report HR 1960 -- the FY14 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -- out of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). HASC passed the FY14 NDAA by a vote of 59-2. NDAA authorizes funding to support and protect our warfighters and their families; address ongoing and emerging conflicts with resolve and accountability; protect America today while preparing for future threats; and finally controls costs while making wise choices with restrained resources. Consistent with the House-passed budget, HR 1960 authorizes $552.1 billion in the base defense budget and $85.8 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.
Congressman Bridenstine recognizes that the committee-passed bill does the following:
· Supports current law, which mandates an automatic 1.8% annual increase in troop pay.
· Makes fundamental reforms to the prevention, adjudication, and punishment of military sexual assault-related offenses, including:
o Reforms the Uniform Code of Military Justice to strip commanders of their authority to dismiss a finding by a court martial.
o Prohibits commanders from reducing guilty findings to guilty of a lesser offence.
o Establishes minimum sentencing guidelines. Currently, such guidelines only exist in the military for the crimes of murder and espionage.
o Allows victims of sexual assault to apply for a permanent change of station or unit transfer, while authorizing the Secretary of Defense to inform commanders of their authority to remove or temporarily reassign service members who are the alleged perpetrators of sexual assault.
o Requires the provision of victims' counsels, qualified and specially trained lawyers in each of the services, to be made available to provide legal assistance to the victims of sex-related offenses.
· Protects our Reserve Component by requires a minimum 120 day notification before deployment or the cancellation of a deployment for the operational reserves.
· Helps mitigate the consequences of sequestration for military readiness by restoring Army and Air Force flying hours programs, facilities sustainment, ship depot maintenance for each service, Army OPTEMPO, ship depot maintenance, Navy critical spares and combat support forces equipment and sustainment, and provides for the stabilization of fuel rates.
· Requires the Secretary to assess the affiliates and adherents of al Qaeda and the evolving threat they pose to U.S. national security. The FY14 NDAA included the Bridenstine co-sponsored Oversight of Sensitive Military Operations Act (OSMOA), which formalizes stringent oversight of targeted lethal or capture operations by the Armed Forces overseas.
· Prohibits the transfer of some missile defense technology to Russia and strengthens congressional oversight of Administration efforts with regard to U.S.-Russia missile defense cooperation generally.
· Maintains the bi-partisan prohibition against transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States or to countries with confirmed cases of transferred detainees returning to the fight.
· Provides authorization and funding for the deployment of an East Coast missile defense site, while the Missile Defense Agency undertakes siting and environmental studies. The FY14 NDAA supports creating such a site, noting that both the Bush and Obama Administrations have supported an additional homeland missile defense site.
The full House will consider HR 1960 on the floor next week.