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Saturday, April 19, 2014

DoD budget for 2014 goes to US Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed H.R. 441, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014, by a vote of 349 ayes to 69 noes. H.R. 441 authorizes and sets policy for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2014. The bill authorizes $552.1 billion for Department of Defense and $80.7 billion in funding for overseas contingency operations. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

The bill makes significant progress on the realignment of Marines from Okinawa to Guam. While the bill continues to hold the Department of Defense accountable for providing updated cost data and associated reports, it allows additional U.S. and Government of Japan funds for construction in Guam. In particular, the language authorizes an $86 million Marine Corps hangar that directly supports the realignment. It also allows nearly $114 million in Government of Japan contributions to be used for site improvements at North Ramp on Andersen Air Force Base in support of realignment efforts. It also allows for greater use of funds for planning and design efforts that will support future military construction.

The bill also fully authorizes military construction at Andersen Air Force Base that support selective hardening and dispersal of assets. The conferees recognized the importance of the Air Force’s Pacific Airpower Resiliency program in Guam, which is a component of countering anti-access, area of denial threats in the region.

The NDAA further reauthorizes the Sikes Act to provide critical protections for fish, wildlife and other natural resources on military installations through 2019. It also fully funds the Navy’s Sea Cadet Corps, supports modernization of the B-52 long range strike platform, and restricts the retirement of the Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft until 2015. 

“I applaud the efforts of Chairman Buck McKeon, Ranking Member Adam Smith, Chairman Carl Levin and Ranking Member Jim Inhofe for working to develop this compromise legislation,” said Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo t(D-GU). “This year’s defense authorization bill sends a clear signal that we are moving forward with strategic military initiatives that directly support the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. The bill demonstrates to our allies in the region that we a serious about the rebalance strategy, and we are putting significant resources towards this strategic initiative. This is an important step forward given the inaction of the past several years.

“H. Res. 441 provides critical authorities for our servicemembers, and I hope the Senate will act responsibly and pass this compromise legislation. Failing to pass the bill by the end of this year would break a 51 year streak of passing a defense authorization bill and signal true dysfunction in Congress.”

A table of the President’s budget request and a summary of Bordallo’s requested and supported provisions included in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014 are listed below:

- Fully authorizes for appropriation $494.6 million in military construction funds for Guam including $85.6 million for a USMC aircraft hangar at North Ramp on Andersen AFB which directly supports the realignment of Marines from Okinawa to Guam;

- Allows use of Government of Japan funds for a $114 million site improvement project at North Ramp of Andersen AFB as well as unlimited use for planning and design of future projects;

- Authorizes $176 million for selective hardening of facilities at Andersen Air Force Base to support the Pacific Airpower Resiliency program;

- Additionally, authorizes $128 million for a fully hardened Fuel Systems Hangar at Andersen Air Force Base that was cut in the previous year’s defense bill. This provision was supported by Chairmen Forbes and Wittman to ensure the Pacific Resiliency program finds the right balance between hardening and dispersal at Andersen AFB. This project was previously partially funded in the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bill;

- Requires the Department of Defense to convene an Economic Adjustment Committee meeting within 90 days after passage of the bill to better validate Guam’s civilian infrastructure funding and produce a final report on civilian infrastructure funding at the time the Record of Decision is signed on the realignment of Marines to Guam;

- Reauthorizes the Sikes Act through 2019;

- Permits a recipient of funds under the Sikes Act to be able to use the funds as matching funds or cost-sharing requirements of other conservation programs. This section allows local governments who are short on funding to use federal funds as matching for the purposes of meeting conversation goals which helps to enhance the readiness of military forces;

- Requires a report on ship repair capabilities in Guam—including skilled personnel, equipment, and facilities—in support of Department of the Navy capabilities needed to sustain United States naval forces readiness in the Guam region;

- Authorizes the National Guard State Partnership Program and requires the Department of Defense to promulgate regulations on the program with certain parameters and requires certain reporting requirements to track progress of the program;

- Provides an additional $1.1 million to the Navy O&M accounts to fully fund the requirements of the Navy Sea Cadet Corps program. The Navy Sea Cadet Corps is a critical program that assists the Navy in meeting recruiting goals;

- Supports current law that provides servicemembers with a 1-percent increase in pay; 

Encompasses a number of initiatives designed to confront sexual assault in the military. In particular, it removes the command prerogative and sole discretion of the court-martial convening authority with regard to the findings and sentence of a court-martial, and prohibits the convening authority from dismissing a finding, or from reducing a guilty finding to guilty of a lesser-included offense, except for minor offenses, and established mandatory minimum sentencing;

Rejects all DoD proposals to increase TRlCARE fee increases or establish new fees;

- Authorizes high schools in the Freely Associated States (FAS) to establish JROTC programs. The provision would provide students in the FAS with opportunities to train for military service;

- Supports U.S. Air Force and U.S. Strategic Command efforts to modernize the B-52 long range strike platform to meet current and future missions out of Andersen AFB and until the NextGen bomber program begins procurement;

- Restricts the retirement of RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft until 2015. (PR)

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