Today, the House passed the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) compromise bill, which included the Military Installations Enhancement Act of 2013-- legislation introduced by U.S Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai"i) and cosponsored by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) -- as an amendment. The Defense Authorization bill will fund provisions important to Hawai"i's economy and military community, and increases overall Defense funding in Hawai"i while other states have seen reductions in defense spending.
"The bill protects defense programs that are essential to Hawai"i and shows Hawai"i's importance as the U.S. moves towards a strategic rebalancing to the Asia Pacific," said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. "It also ensures that we keep the promises we have made to our service men and women, and their families, who have sacrificed so much for our country."
Schatz's legislation, incorporated into NDAA as an amendment, promotes defense readiness at U.S. military bases with smarter investments in base construction that save taxpayer dollars and preserve the environment. The larger bill, with Schatz's legislation included, will now head to the Senate for final passage.
"My amendment will provide smarter and more sustainable development at our military bases that will reduce long-term costs and help to preserve Hawai"i's unique ecosystems," said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. "At a time when the military is facing spending pressure- smart, sustainable development can help the Department of Defense achieve long-term cost--savings while promoting military readiness."
In addition to Senator Schatz's bipartisan amendment, the 2014 NDAA includes a number of provisions that will benefit Hawai"i's economy and defense community. Specifically, the bill:
Authorizes $400 million for military construction in Hawai"i: Makes an investment in our local economy and helps to strengthen Hawai"i's strategic role in the rebalance to the Asia Pacific.
Prohibits DoD from conducting another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC): Congress does not believe that it would provide DoD the savings it needs to manage its fiscal challenges and would only hurt service members and their families.
Continues funding for key missile defense programs: Maintains investment in missile defense systems, including those conducted at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai.
Authorizes more than $26 million for Maui research and development: Continues funding for the Maui Space Surveillance System, a one-of-a-kind electro-optical facility that supports the Air Force's efforts to track space debris.
Sustains the military's environmental restoration activities: Continues efforts to identify and remove unexploded ordnance at former military sites across the neighbor islands, ensuring that military training and activities remain in balance with Hawai"i's cultural and environmental sensitivities.
Authorizes more than $13 million in energy conservation projects in Hawai"i: Funds energy conservation projects at Camp H.M. Smith and at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam that will help the military save money on its energy bills while reducing its vulnerability to energy disruptions.
Ensures access to TRICARE Prime for certain retirees: Allows qualified military retirees in Hawai"i who lost access to TRICARE Prime on October 1, 2013 a one-time option to keep their TRICARE Prime healthcare coverage.
Protects funding for DoD science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs: Authorizes more than $20 million to continue the Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration program (STARBASE), continuing DoD's commitment to building the future workforce needed to support Hawai"i's defense industry.
Improves efforts to implement military electronic health record program: Strengthens efforts within the Departments of Defense and Veterans to implement an electronic health record program that will streamline data sharing and help improve the backlog of veterans healthcare claims that is still preventing thousands of veterans in Hawai"i from receiving the care they need.
Schatz's Military Installations Enhancement Act will improve military readiness while achieving smarter development goals. In order to help DoD realize the savings of these upgrades, military base commanders will be asked to consider:
Using existing developed space to construct new facilities instead of building on undeveloped land, which increases construction costs;
Consolidating facilities into fewer buildings with mixed uses, saving energy;
Developing toward the interior of the base to preserve range and training areas around perimeters, reducing environmental harm;
Making planning decisions with consideration of full lifecycle costs; and
Connecting and diversifying transit systems, which helps bases to be better neighbors.