The NDAA: A Crucial Step in Supporting Our Troops
As a South Carolinian, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and someone with loved ones who served in the military, I believe that supporting our nation’s troops should be our highest priority- and was proud to advocate for and support the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019. The NDAA funds critical military readiness initiatives and construction projects in South Carolina, and across the country. For years our military has had to plan for the future around artificial budget caps that not only hurt readiness, but did little to decrease the deficit. But in this year’s NDAA we closely considered DoD’s priorities, needs, and overall strategy when writing this critical legislation. This NDAA sets a variety of defense policy and spending priorities, including accelerating missile defense and ship building, along with advanced technology research and development.
As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I have had the privilege of working on the NDAA from the start, and my priorities have been simple: focus on personnel readiness, equipment modernization, and countering the threats posed by our greatest competitors – Russia and China. I was very pleased to secure important provisions regarding military construction and troop readiness this year. With the passage of the Senate bill, I am happy to say we are one step closer to providing our troops with adequate resources to defend our nation while recovering from being underfunded for the last six years. The following are a number of priorities I advocated for, that were included in the bill:
A key priority I advocated for was base improvements. This includes enhancements to MCAS Beaufort’s electrical grid, building a needed support facility for F-35s, construction of a recycling and hazardous waste facility at MCAS Beaufort, significant overhaul and improvement of Trainee barracks at Fort Jackson, range improvements and modernization initiatives at MCB Parris Island, and resources to support the MQ-9 Reaper mission control element at Shaw AFB.
Another important provision focused was troop readiness. This provision will require the Department of Defense Director of Operational Test and Evaluation to collaborate with academic experts to identify effective personal equipment that can protect against blast injuries such as traumatic brain injury in training and combat.
Resources to advance shipbuilding was also an important priority. These provisions would add more than $650 million to support amphibious ship building and procurement, an initiative that will benefit our national security readiness, naval forces, and jobs in the shipbuilding industrial base across South Carolina.
Included in the bill is also a military pay raise, and I am happy to say that all of our service members will get a 2.6% pay raise effective January 1, 2019. There are also provisions that acknowledge the important work done by the Navy’s Nuclear Power Training Center at Joint Base Charleston, direct the Department of Defense to study faster ways to reimburse South Carolina when it calls up the National Guard to respond to natural disasters, directs the Air Force to report on needed security and access controls to JB Charleston, and directs additional investment in science and technology for advances needed to counter threats from China and Russia.
In addition to the Senate Armed Services Committee, I also sit on the Senate Banking Committee, and used the work I did there to bring a key piece of legislation into the NDAA. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act will give the Administration a new set of tools to keep the intellectual property and proprietary technology that Americans themselves have worked hard to develop from falling into foreign hands that would seek to hurt us here at home.
I admire the incredible sacrifices our service members make every day and it is an honor to be able to provide them with the resources they need to defend our nation. I will continue to support this important legislation, and work hard to make sure our troops, including so many South Carolinians, are equipped, trained, and prepared to tackle all current and future challenges. You can read more about the latest developments on the NDAA here, and watch me discuss the provisions in-depth on Fox Business here.