Kilmer Backs Defense Authorization Bill

Friday, Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to support the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA). The bill authorizes $733 billion for the Department of Defense and the defense-related activities of the Department of Energy, as well as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). The legislation passed the House of Representatives 220-197.

Key provisions in the bill focus on improving the lives of military families, including a 3.1 percent pay raise for service members, and provisions to improve military housing and clean-up contaminated drinking water at military bases.

“If you serve this country, Congress should have your back and invest in you and your family. I’m proud that this bill includes a number of measures to support our troops and our military families,” said Rep. Kilmer. “In addition, we were able to include measures that keep our country safe and benefit our region.”

“In this era, where partisanship is the norm, the Democratic members of the Armed Services Committee have worked diligently to preserve our Committee’s long-standing tradition of bipartisanship, and the FY20 NDAA is a reflection of that tradition,” said House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith. “While this year’s NDAA contains bipartisan provisions, our new Democratic majority has had an undeniable impact on the contents of this bill. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Kilmer and other members of our excellent Appropriations Committee, the bill passed today reflects our Democratic values, supports our troops, and provides for a strong national defense enterprise.”

The bill includes priorities backed by Rep. Kilmer, including:

Ensuring Fairness for Shipyard Workers

For decades, the Navy has sought to recruit and retain talented workers to public shipyards for critical positions in science and engineering using the Accelerated Promotion Program (APP). In 2016, the Navy suspended the program as it sought recertification from the Office of Personnel Management. Workers hired during that one-year gap in the program were adversely affected by the suspension, leading to lost pay and slower promotions when compared to their other colleagues. To fix this issue, Rep. Kilmer authored an amendment that asks the Navy for a plan to make this right for those workers.

Prohibiting Federal Funds from Being Used for War Against Iran

Earlier this year, Rep. Kilmer and more than 100 House Democrats sent a letter to President Trump to urge him to deescalate the tensions between the United States and Iran and to ensure he seeks Congressional approval for potential offensive use of military force. In the NDAA, Rep. Kilmer sponsored a bipartisan amendment to prevent federal funds from being used for any military force against Iran without congressional authorization. The amendment clarifies that neither the 2001 nor the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) can be invoked to justify the use of military force against Iran.

Reducing Jet Noise

Over the past several years, Rep. Kilmer has pushed the Department of Defense to fund efforts to reduce the noise of the Navy’s EA-18G Growler through his work on the Appropriations Committee. In addition to the measures secured by Rep. Kilmer to monitor Navy jet noise and make that monitoring data public in the Defense Appropriations bill, the NDAA directs the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of the Air Force to conduct real-time noise-monitoring at Navy and Air Force installations. Like the Defense Appropriations bill, the NDAA also sets aside funds to continue developing technology that could be installed on Growler engines to reduce their noise.

Increasing Tribal Mitigation Capabilities

Currently, the Department of Defense must undertake meaningful consultations and discussions Native American tribes in the event that a military construction project impacts treaty rights and must make sure that those impacts are appropriately mitigated. To improve the consultation process and minimize potential impacts to tribes, the NDAA includes a measure championed by Rep. Kilmer to ensure that the Secretary of Defense initiates consultations with tribal governments earlier in the process and work with tribes to minimize impacts to tribal lands, sacred sites, or tribal treaty rights.

Ensuring the Military is a Responsible Climate Partner

The NDAA ensures that the military makes progress toward being a responsible partner in fighting climate change. This year, the NDAA requires the Department of Defense to develop installation master plans that assess current climate vulnerabilities and establish measures to mitigate the risks. It also requires the Department of Defense to amend the building standards for military construction to ensure that building practices and standards promote energy, climate, and cyber resilience at military installation.  Relatedly, the bill directs military construction projects to consider potential long-term changes in environmental conditions and increasingly frequent extreme weather events. Importantly, the NDAA also includes a requirement for the Department of Defense to report on the progress towards meeting the goal of 25 percent renewable energy for military facilities by 2025.

A summary of the legislation can be found HERE.