As America Celebrates Flag Day and the U.S. Army's 238th birthday today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) praised the Senate Armed Services Committee's bipartisan passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week. Blunt is currently one of three U.S. Senators to serve on both the defense appropriations and authorizing committees.
"Our men and women in uniform and their families make tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedoms, and Missouri serves a vital role in the defense of our country," said Blunt. "Our state is home to hundreds of thousands of active duty servicemen and women and civilian defense employees and private sector contractors, as well as several important military installations, including Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base. This bill is an important step in the right direction to give our Armed Services the resources they need to meet their critical mission defending America."
Senator Blunt introduced or co-sponsored a number of amendments that were included in the base bill or passed during the mark-up, including:
* Report Language on F/A-18 Super Hornet and Navy Tactical Aircraft Shortfall: Senator Blunt's report language, which was included in the base bill, sends a clear signal to the U.S. Navy that the committee is concerned with the delay in production of the F-35C tactical strike fighter. If nothing is done, the Navy will soon be forced to send aircraft carriers out to sea and sailors into harm's way without sufficient aircraft to take off from its carrier decks. This increase in risk can cost lives. In the meantime, the Navy would be wise to invest in additional F/A-18 Super Hornets which provide a capable, combat-proven alternative that is available now.
* Briefing Requirement on the Status of the Small Diameter Bomb: The Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) is built in St. Charles, Mo. and sustains hundreds of jobs in the region. Senator Blunt drafted briefing requirement language, which was included in the base bill, that requires the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force to brief the congressional defense committees on the status of the entire SDB program no later than 90 days after enactment of the Act.
* Report Language on Development of the Long Range Strike Bomber: Senator Blunt's report language sends a message to the U.S. Air Force and industry leaders that the next-gen bomber is critical for national security. This language was included in the base bill.
* Manchin-Blunt Legacy Model C-130H Engine Modernization: U.S. This bipartisan language, which was introduced by Senator Blunt and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (W.V.), will provide for the upgrade of engines in the C-130H program. The 139th Airlift Wing at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base has 11 C-130's in the fleet.
* Shaheen-Blunt Strategy to Prevent the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Related Materials in the Middle East and North Africa Region: This bipartisan amendment, which was introduced by Senator Blunt and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), directs the president to prepare a strategy and implementation plan for preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related materials in the Middle East and North Africa. The plan is due to Congress by March 31, 2014.
* Military Voting Improvement: Senator Blunt heard from the Department of Defense (DoD) about the need to improve the military mail system. He responded, and his amendment allows DoD to work with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to ensure military voters get their absentee ballots in a timely manner.
* Cyber Expert Civilians in the National Guard to Protect Critical Infrastructure: There is a shortfall in the number of qualified cyber experts to meet the demand to protect our nation's critical infrastructure. This amendment will be included into the committee's directive to DoD to develop a strategy for using the Reserve components of the Armed Forces to support cyber missions of U.S. Cyber Command. Specifically, Senator Blunt's amendment will require DoD to assess the benefits of hiring private sector civilians on a part-time basis to help the U.S. National Guard defend domestic critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks. This amendment provides the needed authorities to the Missouri National Guard to aid in defending Ft. Leonard Wood from harmful cyber intrusions.
* McCaskill Sexual Assault Amendment: Senator Blunt co-sponsored U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill's (Mo.) legislation to help stop sexual assault in the military. Aspects of the BE SAFE Act were accepted by the committee as an amendment.