WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today applauded the Senate passage of the nation’s annual defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“I’m proud to have voted today to pass legislation that will further strengthen our nation’s military and technological capabilities, as well as reaffirm our commitment to servicemembers – all while making crucial investments that will boost local economies and the industrial base throughout Virginia. I look forward to seeing this bill get signed into law,” said Sen. Warner.
The $768.2 billion bill passed by the Senate today includes a number of provisions authored or cosponsored by Sen. Warner that would:
- Make historic reforms to the military’s handling of sexual assault cases. Provisions modeled after the Warner-sponsored Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act would empower independent prosecutors with the exclusive authority to refer certain offenses to trial, removing this authority from the military chain of command; improve tracking of sexual assault retaliation claims; include sexual harassment as a “standalone offense,” and make claims subject to investigation by an independent investigator; expand use of a Department of Defense (DoD) safe helpline for sexual assault reporting; and make important reforms to help support survivors.
- Create a basic needs allowance for servicemembers, to ensure that all men and women in uniform can support their families with necessities like adequate food. The provision, modeled after the Warner-sponsored Military Hunger Prevention Act is aimed at combating disturbing rates of food insecurity in the military.
- Commission a report on the impacts of the Afghan resettlement mission on the National Guard. Support from the military has been vital in the historic and incredibly important Operation Allies Welcome mission, helping bring vulnerable Afghans to safety, and ultimately resettling them in the U.S. This provision would require the Secretary of Defense to produce a report on the impacts of that resettlement mission on the National Guard, including any effects on mission readiness, training, maintenance, and equipment, so that we can ensure the Guard has the support it needs going forward.
- Require a fuller analysis on planned restructuring of military medical positions. The final bill includes a provision that mirrors an amendment introduced by Sen. Warner to hold the military’s plans for reductions and realignment to military end strength authorizations, pending an independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of the analysis backing the move, and its potential impacts.
- Promote defense research at HBCUs and MSIs. Based off Senator Warner’s amendment and bill the BEACON Act of 2021, the NDAA requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to promote defense research at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions, including by providing contracting assistance and establishing goals and incentives for further partnership.
- Support military mental health resources by creating a process through which a servicemember can self-initiate a referral for mental health evaluation. Senator Warner cosponsored a bipartisan amendment to include this provision – that provision is modeled after the Brandon Act, which is named in honor of United States Navy Petty Officer Third Class Brandon Caserta.
The bill also includes a number of other crucial measures supported by Sen. Warner.
For the Commonwealth, this bill authorizes:
- Nearly $500 million for 19 military construction projects in Virginia that will create jobs, strengthen local economies, and provide needed improvements to our military installations. These projects are authorized at installations across the Commonwealth, including Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Naval Station Norfolk, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Ft. Belvoir, the Humphreys Engineer Center, NGA, the Virginia National Guard Readiness Center, and the Pentagon.
- $3.1 billion for the Columbia-class submarine program – $130 million more than the President’s budget. This funding will go towards industrial base development and expansion, which supports the Virginia- and Columbia-class programs. This would increase capacity, qualify new suppliers, add resiliency and create competition for critical components, and identify points in the supply chain where shortfalls exist.
- Boosted funding for shipbuilding programs that would allow the military to procure 13 battle force ships, including two Virginia-class submarines, two additional destroyers, and an extra expeditionary fast transport.
- A $25 million increase to strengthen the industrial base workforce training pipeline to support the development of advanced manufacturing capabilities, and the ability to train a world-class manufacturing workforce.
For a stronger military, this bill authorizes:
- A pay increase of 2.7 percent for our nation’s servicemembers.
- Expanded parental leave, which will authorize up to 12 weeks of leave for all primary and secondary caregivers following the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child.
- Increased accountability around military housing by requiring the Secretaries of the military departments to ensure that personnel performance evaluations assess the extent to which certain military officers have exercised effective oversight and leadership of military privatized housing.
- An additional $30 million for the Defense Health Program to increase capacity to provide treatment for servicemembers, civilians, and family members affected by Havana Syndrome. It would also require the President to designate a senior official as the interagency coordinator for responding to this threat.
To strengthen our nation’s technological capabilities and supply chains, this bill includes:
- Full authorization of U.S. Cyber Command, and requirements for various assessments of our cyber capabilities and defenses.
- An increase of $3 billion in funding for science and technology programs that fund cutting-edge research across universities, small businesses, defense labs, and industry. This will help develop U.S. capacity in critical areas such as AI, microelectronics, advanced materials, 5G, and biotechnology.
- A supply chain directive requiring the Comptroller General to assess DoD’s efforts to address information and communications technology supply chain risks.
- Authorization for $250 million to establish a national network for microelectronics research and development to support a world-leading domestic microelectronics manufacturing capability. This provision strengthens measures made possible by Sen. Warner’s CHIPS for America Act.
To bolster our ability to address strategic global challenges, this bill would authorize:
- $7.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative to support U.S. strategic aims in the Indo-Pacific region, and respond to actions by China and the CCP.
- $4 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative to counter Russian aggression and support our NATO allies.
- $300 million in security assistance and intelligence support to Ukraine to deter continued malign actions by Russia.