The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2016 with several provisions important to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
In his weekly e-newsletter, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said among the provisions are more slots at military academies, annual report on Japan military spending in the Marianas, and respect for the views of local government.
The bill, H.R. 1735, adds one more slot for students from the Northern Mariana Islands at the U.S. Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, and the Military Academy at West Point.
“I doubled the number from three to six in U.S. Public Law 111-84, but today only one of those six positions is unfilled. So it is time again to increase the opportunities for our young people who want to serve their country,” Sablan said.
The Secretary of Defense would be required to submit a report every year from 2017 through 2026, detailing the amount of funds contributed by the Japanese government for the realignment of Marine Corps Forces in the Asia-Pacific region.
The report would cover total amounts contributed, anticipated contributions, and completed and planned projects in the Mariana Islands paid for with Japanese money.
The e-newsletter further said a provision in last year’s House-passed defense bill required that governors are fully consulted and all options considered, when the military acquires land in excess of $750,000 in U.S. states and commonwealths.
The Senate rejected the idea, but this year the House Armed Services Committee added the language again. Existing law, 10 U.S.C. §2664(a), requiring congressional approval is unchanged: “No military department may acquire real property not owned by the United States unless the acquisition is expressly authorized by law.”
The 2016 NDAA also authorizes a 2.3-percent pay increase for military personnel, provides funding for suicide prevention programs, and strengthens provisions related to sexual assault in the military, the newsletter said.
The bill still has to be reconciled with the Senate version before it goes to President Barack Obama.