With Alaska Congressman Don Young's support, the House of Representatives today passed the FY14 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), on a bipartisan vote of 315-108. The bill will authorize roughly $638 billion in national defense funding for both domestic and overseas contingency operations, including a 1.8 % pay increase for our men and women in uniform. The NDAA bill contains several Alaska specific amendments sponsored by Rep. Don Young.
"My amendments in this year's National Defense Authorization Act cover a range of issues, from getting the Defense Department on record about Alaska's strategic importance, to prioritizing funding for our nation's strategic seaports, which includes the Port of Anchorage, to finding ways to save money and maintain military bases by co-locating Federal agencies on military bases," said Rep. Young. "As our nation shifts to the Pacific, Alaska will play an even more critical role in training our soldiers, safeguarding our freedoms, and projecting our influence into the Pacific and the Arctic. My amendments continue to ensure senior military leaders remember the words of General Billy Mitchell who said "Alaska is the most strategic place in the world.'"
Congressman Young Amendments to FY2014 NDAA include:
Pacific and Arctic Strategic Study: Requires the Secretary of Defense to issue a report on the strategic value of installations operating within the Pacific Area of Responsibility. This report would analyze various characteristics including geographic advantage, usefulness for future missions, and proximity to training ranges, suitability of the installation for basing of F-35 aircraft and other future weapons systems and will provide the information Congress needs to assess our country's strategic shift to the Pacific. Overall, this report would compel the Department of Defense to finally quantify and qualify why they believe Alaska's military installations are strategic.
Strategic Seaport Prioritization: In support of U.S. national security requirements, this bipartisan amendment allows the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) to prioritize funding for the 21 DoD-designated strategic seaports (including Anchorage) in the United States.
Federal and Military Consolidation Report: In order to look for efficiencies, this amendment requires GAO to review the potential of co-locating Federal entities onto military bases, so long as those missions are compatible with the missions of the military installations. This report will focus on federal entities with homeland security, defense, international trade, commerce, and other national security-related functions. This good-government report will provide the foundation to explore new ways in which the U.S. can retain current military installations and still save money.
Lowering Regulatory Burdens for Alaska Native 8(a) Corporations: Corrects harms caused by Section 811 of the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act, that since enacted, has adversely affected Alaska Native Corporations that participate in the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program.
"Today's legislation once again ensures that our nation's military receives the support they need to carry out their mission," Rep. Young said. "In addition to funding our service men and women at home and abroad, this bill contains language to combat the rise in sexual assaults throughout the military, halts Administration proposals to increase TRICARE fees and incorporates lessons learned from the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya so that this type of incident never occurs again."
Other important provisions that will benefit Alaska include:
Ground Based Interceptor: Streamlines the acquisition of the 14 Ground Based Interceptors announced by Secretary Hagel on March 15, 2013 saving the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
BRAC: Understanding that a round of base closures at this time would not only be costly, but reflect temporary budget pressures at the expense of long term strategic assets, this bill prohibits the Department of Defense from proposing, planning, or initiating another round of BRAC.
Training Ranges: Ensures continued access to military training ranges, like the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC).
National Guard and Reserve Equipment Modernization: Continues support of modernizing National Guard and Reserve Components by providing additional funding in a National Guard and Reserve Component Equipment Account.
Restoring Readiness To Our Armed Forces: This bill exceeds the President's Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) request by $5 billion and uses those and other funds to replenish readiness accounts raided in prior years to cover underfunded war costs. This funding will restore Army and Air Force flying hours programs and facilities sustainment.
North Korea: This bill reflects a Sense of Congress that North Korea's rogue actions are unacceptable and contrary to international peace and stability.