Delaware’s congressional delegation applauds wins for Delaware in newly signed defense bill

U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (all D-Del.) applauded President Biden signing the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this morning. The $857 billion bill supports a 4.6% pay raise for both military servicemembers and the Department of Defense (DOD) civilian workforce. The bill also includes provisions for Delaware, including the transfer of the vacant Army Reserve Center to the City of Lewes for use as a new town hall and police station. 

“By enacting the National Defense Authorization Act for the 62nd consecutive year, Congress and President Biden are making sure the men and women of our armed forces in Delaware and across the nation have the necessary resources to keep our country safe,” said Delaware’s congressional delegation. “This bipartisan bill will benefit our state by investing in our cutting-edge manufacturing facilities, modernizing local government resources, supporting community safety, and authorizing much-needed investments in projects and programs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Delaware. It will also make the investments we need to continue strengthening the strongest military in the world, keeping the American people and our partners and allies safe and secure and ensuring we are able to defend our values across the globe.”

The fiscal year 2023 NDAA includes provisions to modernize our armed forces capabilities, reinforce our alliances, invest in cutting-edge technologies, strengthen our cybersecurity, build supply chain resilience, and benefit Delawareans by:

Investing in the Health and Readiness of Delaware’s Servicemembers and Veterans 

  • Requires a review and report on the rates of suicides in the armed forces and a plan on how to apply reforms related to suicide prevention among members of the armed forces.
  • Requires an assessment of potential improvements to reduce the effects of environmental exposures, such as burn pits and environmental hazards, to servicemembers and create a plan to implement the improvements. 
  • Makes improvements relating to behavioral health care in the military health system.
  • Requires the establishment of the brain health program, the Warfighter Brain Health Initiative, to improve cognitive performance and brain health of servicemembers.
  • Extends the funding period for the ongoing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s study on the human health impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, in drinking water.

Supporting Military and Civilian Personnel Workforce

  • Includes funding to support a 4.6% pay raise for military servicemembers and the DOD civilian workforce.
  • Includes a pilot program to reimburse military families for certain child care costs.
  • Supports servicemembers’ access to quality housing through the basic allowance for housing in high-cost areas, addressing housing shortages, and more.

Improving Competitiveness at Home and Bolstering Defense

  • Authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology to support the construction of test beds and specialized facilities at Manufacturing USA institutes.
  • Directs the Secretary of Defense to provide support for bioindustrial manufacturing facilities to conduct research and development to support national security and secure fragile supply chains.
  • Creates a program to increase the capacity of HBCUs or other Minority-Serving Institutions to achieve very high research activity status.
  • Includes $1 billion for the National Defense Stockpile to acquire strategic and critical materials required to meet the defense, industrial, and essential civilian needs of the United States.

Authorizing Much-Needed Investments in Projects and Programs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Delaware and Across the Country

  • Includes major provisions from the Shoreline Health Oversight, Restoration, Resilience, and Enhancement (SHORRE) Act, which Senator Carper and Congresswoman Blunt Rochester introduced earlier this year, including greater support to Delaware’s beaches following major storms and making shoreline protection more affordable for the Bay Beaches.
  • Authorizing the Corps to work with the University of Delaware to conduct academic research in water resource ecology, water quality, aquatic ecosystem restoration, coastal restoration research, and water resource-related emergency management.
  • Authorizing individual environmental infrastructure programs supporting drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure for Kent County, Sussex County, and New Castle County at $35 million each.