WASHINGTON-The U.S. House of Representatives passed the conference report of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 359 to 54. The conference report will now be approved by the Senate and sent to the President for signature. This is the fourth NDAA under U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry's (R-Clarendon) chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee.
“This year's NDAA takes a big step toward rebuilding and repairing our military. We are putting the men and women who put their lives on the line first and making sure they have what they need to get the job done,” Thornberry said. “Our servicemembers sacrifice so much for our freedom; it is only right that they have the best equipment, best training, and the best support our country can provide.”
The NDAA authorizes $717 billion in spending for defense needs, including significant increases for readiness recovery, and it fully funds a 2.6 percent pay raise for our troops, the highest increase in nine years. It also extends special pay and bonuses for servicemembers in high-demand fields to combat the high turnover of these jobs.
Thornberry also said, “This bill continues to reform the Pentagon to help speed up decision-making and get equipment to our warfighters faster."
Key Highlights of the NDAA:
- Authorizes $17.7 billion to begin to rehabilitate and replace worn our Army equipment, $40.8 billion to begin address the military aviation crisis, $36.3 billion to restore our at sea strength, and $23.5 billion to rebuild military buildings and infrastructure;
- Funds the growth or our Army, Navy, Air Force, Naval and Air Reserve, and Air Guard;
- Increases funding for training in each service;
- Creates a Chief Management Officer (CMO) who will be charged with finding efficiencies and reducing 25 percent of the cost of certain Department-wide activities, enhancing accountability;
- Provides $21.8 billion for equipment maintenance and $3.7 billion for spare parts;
- Adds funding to improve America's missile defense;
- Makes key investments in other critical military capabilities to confront aggression and address threats around the world, including threats from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran; and
- Places emphasis on policy and programs to advance America's security against emerging threats - Artificial intelligence, space and counter-space capabilities, cyber, influence operations, hypersonics, among others.
Sheppard Air Force Base:The NDAA authorizes funding for an increase in end strength of the Air Force and increases funding for flying hours by $17.8 million, which will allow for more time in the air for our pilots. It includes an additional $5 million to help accelerate technology development required to mitigate physiological episodes and $2.8 billion for the procurement of spare airplane parts for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. It also includes language to address the ongoing pilot shortage, which is hampering readiness in every service. In an effort to address the persistent pilot shortage, the bill requires the Air Force to evaluate all pilot staff requirements to maximize pilots’ time in the cockpit.
Pantex:The bill provides $11.2 billion in funding for nuclear weapons activities, including the work done at Pantex, which is $176 million more than the Administration’s budget request. All life extension programs, including the W76-1 program currently underway at Pantex and the lower-yield W76-2 warhead program that will soon be initiated, are fully funded. The bill includes $24 million to continue design activities for the Pantex Material Staging Facility, which will dramatically improve operations and security at the plant. To help with aging infrastructure and security needs at Pantex and other facilities across the enterprise, the bill provides an additional $118 million above the budget request. The bill also includes a provision and funding to accelerate two key nuclear modernization programs and their associated warhead programs: the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent and the Long-Range Standoff cruise missile.
Bell:Close to $2.3 billion is authorized for Bell’s V-22 Osprey and helicopter programs, including the procurement of 7 new Ospreys and 25 new H-1 helicopters. Much of the work for those aircraft will be performed in Amarillo.