Delaware’s Congressional Delegation Applauds Final Passage of Annual Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (all D-Del.) today applauded final passage of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a nearly $768 billion bill funding our nation’s armed services for the 2022 fiscal year. The 61st annual defense bill supports a 2.7 percent pay raise for both military servicemembers and the Department of Defense (DoD) civilian workforce. The bill also includes provisions critical for Delaware, including authorizing more than $17 million to replace the New Castle County Airport Fuel Cell Hangar for the Delaware Air National Guard.

“Approving the annual defense bill has always been a bipartisan priority, and I’m pleased both chambers of Congress could come together to continue that tradition and pass this year’s NDAA,” said Senator Carper. “This critical bill will support our nation’s service men and women, and their families, who make tremendous sacrifices for our country. In addition to important investments for the First State, this bill also ensures our nation’s men and women in uniform have the resources they need to keep our country and its citizens safe.” 

“Our annual defense bill authorizes crucial investments in Delaware, the Department of Defense, and the people who bravely serve our country,” said Senator Coons. “This legislation will not only strengthen Dover Air Force Base and the Delaware National Guard, it will also provide our service members with the necessary tools to protect the American people and address our nation’s most pressing foreign policy and national security priorities. I’m glad Congress finally came together once again to pass this year’s NDAA on a bipartisan basis.”

“Each year, Senator Carper, Senator Coons, and I work together to secure key provisions for Delaware and the nation in the annual National Defense Authorization Act,” said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. “This year’s NDAA authorizes construction of a new Fuel Cell Hanger for the Delaware Air National Guard, their top priority for over a decade. It also increases pay for our brave men and women in uniform and prioritizes the health and safety of our service members by adding more measures to limit exposure to chemicals like PFAS. I’m proud of the provisions included in this bill because it will improve the lives of so many of our nation’s service members, including those that call the First State their home.”

The annual defense bill passed today includes provisions that will benefit Delawareans by:

Investing in the Health and Readiness of Delaware’s Servicemembers

·       Authorizes $17.5 million in funding to replace the New Castle County Airport Fuel Cell Hangar for the Delaware Air National Guard.

·       Requires the DoD to submit a report to Congress on efforts to remediate dangerous PFAS at Dover Air Force Base and other installations, and establishes a schedule to test water at all identified military installations and National Guard facilities.

·       Requires the DoD to test for PFAS within two years at hundreds of military installations, including formerly used defense sites and National Guard facilities where PFAS has been released.

·       Places a temporary moratorium on the unsafe incineration of firefighting foam containing PFAS and materials contaminated by PFAS until the Secretary of Defense implements the Environmental Protection Agency’s interim destruction and guidance and incineration limits included in the FY 2020 NDAA.

·       Authorizes an additional $15 million to continue to study the health exposure of defense communities affected by PFAS, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

·       Authorizes $15 million for PFAS-based firefighting foam replacement, disposal, and cleanup technology.

·       Provides $15 million for PFAS remediation and disposal technology.

Supporting Military and Civilian Personnel Workforce

·       Includes funding to support a 2.7 percent pay raise for both military servicemembers and the DOD civilian workforce.

·       Increases parental leave to 12 weeks for all servicemembers for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child, and creates a new category of bereavement leave for military personnel that would permit servicemembers to take up to two weeks of leave in connection with the death of a spouse or child.

Protecting Afghan Allies and Deterring Aggression Abroad

·       Expresses the sense of Congress about the importance of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program and honors commitments to those Afghan partners, who at great personal risk, supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Directs the establishment of a multi-year independent Afghanistan War Commission to examine the war in Afghanistan.

·       Contains multiple provisions to address the strategic challenges posed by the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Requires the Secretary of Defense to provide recurring briefings on efforts to deter Chinese aggression and military coercion. Robustly funds the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI).

Improving Competitiveness at Home and Bolstering Defense

·       Authorizes increased funding for CH-47F Block-II Chinook helicopters which will support hundreds of Delaware Boeing employees at Ridley Park.

·       Authorizes an increase in funds available for science and technology programs that fund cutting-edge research activities at universities, small businesses, defense labs, and industry, including in critical areas such as artificial intelligence, microelectronics, advanced materials, 5G, and biotechnology.

·       Authorizes a historic $5.8 billion increase above the President’s Budget Request in funding for research, development, testing, and evaluation, including a 24.7% increase in defense-wide basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development. Makes significant new investments in academic partnerships, and more than doubles the budget request’s support for activities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities by $42.1 million.

·       Authorizes significant additional cybersecurity investments in people, programs, and technologies.

·       Prohibits reduction in the Air Force’s total C-130 aircraft inventory below 279 aircrafts, protecting the Delaware Air National Guard wing.

Caring for Servicemembers and Veterans

·       Provides better care for those affected by burn pits by requiring DOD medical providers to undergo mandatory training on the potential health effects of burn pits.

·       Addresses sexual assault in the military by criminalizing sexual harassment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. All claims of sexual harassment will be required to be investigated by an independent investigator outside the chain of command.

·       Removes the Commander from decisions related to the prosecution of covered crimes including rape, sexual assault, murder, manslaughter, and kidnapping.

·       Creates an Office of the Special Trial Counsel within each Service and ensures their independence by requiring they directly report to the Service Secretary.