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Thornberry's defense bill passes House

Washington, May 19, 2016 | Jon Corley (202-225-3706)

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the annual defense policy bill that authorizes spending for military personnel, weapons systems, national security programs, and foreign military operations by a vote of 277 to 147. This is the second National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to be passed under local U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry’s (R-Clarendon) chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee.

“This bill stops cuts to our Armed Forces, provides a pay raise for our troops, and makes major reforms in several critical areas including military health care, the commissary system, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the acquisition system,” Thornberry said. “The legislation seeks to ensure that we do not deploy troops who are not fully trained, whose equipment is worn out, and who did not get the resources they needed back home to be ready to face our enemies overseas.”

The bill authorizes nearly $610 billion in spending for national defense. Locally, the bill also includes funding for national security facilities including training missions at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, about $2.8 billion total for Bell’s V-22 Osprey and helicopter programs including the procurement of 18 new Ospreys and 26 new AH-1Z / UH-1Y helicopters for the Marine Corps. Much of the work for those aircraft will be performed in Amarillo.

It also provides $9.6 billion in funding for nuclear weapons activities—including those performed at Pantex—which is a $316 million increase to the budget request. To help address the severe backlog of maintenance on physical infrastructure across the National Nuclear Security Administration, the bill provides $120 million specifically for recapitalization projects and an additional $30 million for preventative maintenance. The bill also includes $717 million for defense nuclear security, an increase of $60 million to the budget request, to recapitalize aging physical security equipment located at Pantex and Y-12. 

The NDAA improves access to quality care for service members, retirees, and their families, while enhancing medical readiness. Reforms ensure that the generous benefit our troops deserve and have earned is sustainable for generations to come. These reforms make no changes for the current force or retirees.

Other Highlights

  • Military Personnel and Pay: The bill supports a 2.1 percent pay raise for service members, which is higher than the President’s proposal of 1.6 percent.
  • BRAC: Prohibits another round of base closings.
  • Commissaries: Reforms the commissary system to preserve the benefit, while also making improvements to ensure continued saving for shoppers, a good
  • Strengthens Military: Reverses cuts to troop strength; increases investments in training and maintenance programs; and rebuilds crumbling facilities like barracks, hangars, and airfields.
  • Readiness: Makes vital investments in maintenance by including an increase of $597 million for the Navy and Marine Corps, $312 million for the Army, and $430 million more for the Air Force to ensure next-to-deploy units are mission capable.
  • Deterring Russia: Provides funds for more troops and equipment in Europe to deter Russia, as well as additional funds to assist Ukraine.
  • Fighting ISIS: Provides funds to train and equip Syrian fighters and assist Iraqis in re-taking Mosul, and adds funds to make sure that Kurdish and Sunni allies are able to stay in the fight.