Sens. Carper, Coons secure major wins for Delaware in annual defense bill, 3% pay raise for troops

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) voted to pass the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes a 3% pay raise for troops, new programs for Historically Black Colleges and Universities like Delaware State University, provisions to remediate harmful chemical contamination near Dover Air Force Base, and more. 

“I’m pleased that the Senate could come together to approve this year’s National Defense Authorization Act that helps to protect our troops and also ensure that they have the resources needed to keep our country and our citizens safe,” said Senator Carper. “It is critically important that we support the men and women serving in our Armed Forces who, along with their families, make tremendous sacrifices for our nation. I’m proud that we have included a pay raise for them, along with investments that will help us counter ever-evolving threats to our national security.”

“This annual defense bill makes key investments to keep our military ready for any challenges that come our way, but it also includes provisions that will make a real difference for the state of Delaware,” said Senator Coons.  “I’m proud that we successfully fought to include support for Delaware State University ROTC students, resources to address environmental contamination issues near Dover Air Force Base, and a 3% pay raise for our men and women in uniform.”

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

  • Increasing Pay for Troops

The bill supports a 3 percent pay raise for our military and over two dozen types of bonuses and special pay for our troops.

  • Ensuring access to care for Vietnam veterans

The legislation provides a presumption of service-connection for bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism in veterans exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam. Based on the Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act, which Senators Carper and Coons cosponsored, this legislation will ensure that more Vietnam veterans get access to care without burdensome delays.

  • Remediation for harmful chemicals known as PFAS

This year’s NDAA builds on provisions in last year’s defense bill to increase funds for ongoing studies related to PFAS contamination in drinking water, a problem that has affected the Dover community.  It also requires a survey on and research into firefighting technologies in order to phase out the use of foams containing PFAS.

  • Two new programs for HBCUs like Delaware State University

The NDAA includes provisions from the FLIGHT Act, bipartisan legislation led by Senator Coons and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and supported by Senator Carper, to provide new resources for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) like Delaware State University. The bill will help improve diversity in our military ranks and our pilot workforce.

  • Reauthorizes the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Program

The bill includes an amendment led by Senator Carper, the top-ranking Democrat on the Environment and Public Works committee, that would reauthorize the popular, cost effective DERA program through fiscal year 2024. DERA helps finance the replacement of older diesel engines with cleaner, American-made technology. Cleaning up dirty diesel engines will mean cleaner air and economic opportunity at time when Americans, not just those serving in our military, need it most.

  • Finds commercial uses for emissions to combat climate change

The bill features provisions of the USE IT Act, co-sponsored by Senators Carpers and Coons, which helps to identify commercial uses for captured carbon dioxide emissions to help fight climate change. Climate change is a great threat to our national security, to our military installations and to the health of our troops.

On Tuesday, the House passed their version of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2021 that also included a number of these provisions. The House and Senate will meet in conference to resolve difference between the two bills before passing one identical bill to send to the president’s desk.