Congressman Jon Runyan (R-NJ) joined a majority of his colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) in passing H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. The NDAA authorizes policy and appropriations for the Department of Defense. Within the NDAA were a number of provisions that Congressman Runyan believed were critical priorities for our nation's military, including Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL).
The NDAA authorizes Military Construction (MilCon) funding for infrastructure at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL). These projects include:
$9.5M for Automated Multipurpose Machine Gun Range
$7.9M for Central Issue Facility
$13.4M for Consolidated Dining Facility
$5.4M for Modified Record Fire Range
$10M to Replace Fuel Distribution Components
"These construction projects are critical to JB MDL, maintaining our national security, and supporting our South Jersey defense industry," said Congressman Runyan. "The Joint Base is a vital piece of our regional economy and these projects will help ensure that the base continues to grow and have premier facilities to handle current and future missions."
Congressman Runyan also again ensured pay parity language in the legislation that demonstrates the Armed Services Committee's continued concern about wage grade disparities at JB MDL and other joint base military installations. In the FY 2012 and FY 2013 NDAA, Congressman Runyan worked to include similar language to work towards a fix for this inequity.
"Wage grade parity has been an issue at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst since the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure," said Rep. Runyan. "JB MDL has employees doing the same job, but being paid on different wage scales because the employees work on different sides of the base. Many of these wage grade employees are also veterans and should be paid at the same rate."
Also included in the legislation was an amendment that ensures that the Secretary of Defense remains compliant with minimum safe staffing standards for Department of Defense firefighters. This amendment seeks to protect firefighter staffing levels and more importantly, it will ensure the safety of our servicemembers and civilians in and around military installations throughout the United States.
Rep. Runyan was extremely pleased that the bill also included his amendment to honor Reservists and National Guardsmen who have completed 20 years or more in the reserve component, but have not served a qualifying period of federal active duty time, with the veterans' status they have more than earned.
FY 2013 NDAA also includes other provisions important to our nation's warfighters, including a 1.8% across the board pay raise for members of the uniformed services.
Last but not least, Congressman Runyan also made sure that language regarding the current downsizing at the General Services Administration's (GSA) Eastern Distribution Center (EDC) in Burlington, New Jersey was included in the legislation. It has been estimated that 75% of shipments from the EDC are for Department of Defense purposes. Rep. Runyan's language in the bill strongly encourages the Department of Defense to examine the important work at this facility to ensure the EDC maintains its ability to sustain the readiness of our armed forces.