Last night, the Senate voted 89 to 8 to approve the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and key national security programs across the federal government. By working together across party lines, we voted on a bipartisan bill that will enhance our security while providing a well-earned pay raise for our country’s brave service members. Working together with my partner in the Senate, Senator Coons, we secured a number of priorities for Delaware.
The final NDAA bill includes much needed funding to support the National Guard’s air fleet across the country, including $96.11 million for C-130H modernization and $26.8 million for general upgrades. This funding is crucial to keeping the Delaware National Guard’s C-130s on pace to modernize and keep the 166th Airlift Wing ready to go at a moment’s notice. Earlier this month, the Delaware National Guard deployed a C-130 with personnel from the 142nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron to Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It’s our duty to support Delaware’s Guardsmen as they continue to protect and aid Delawareans and our fellow Americans around the world.
Delawareans help build scores of aircraft for our military. The continued investments in aircraft called for in this bill will protect current jobs and ensure our military has the aircraft it needs to carry out its vital missions. The final bill also includes an amendment I sponsored to make fuel cell and battery technologies – like those produced by Bloom Energy in Newark – more competitive in the Department of Defense’s energy procurement process. The bill also authorizes $75 million to support the growth of manufacturing jobs across the country. Supporting smart investments in the NDAA like modernizing aircraft and promoting new energy development will help grow the technology and manufacturing jobs so many rely on across Delaware and continue to make us competitive in the 21st century economy.
The NDAA bill passed out of the Senate last night also includes bipartisan legislation I wrote with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to crack down on misuse of government purchase and travel cards. This legislation will help save taxpayer dollars that we can then use to invest elsewhere. Being good stewards of taxpayer dollars is something everyone, regardless of party, can support – especially when we look at the incredible initiatives we can invest those saved dollars back into.
The annual defense spending authorization bill is required to fund our military and support American personnel. And, when we work across party lines, the NDAA can be a great tool to make smart investments in good-paying jobs right here at home.