Larsen Successfully Shapes National Defense Authorization Act
Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) yesterday helped shape the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 to include key priorities to support local military bases, reduce government waste, promote nuclear oversight, and protect women and men in uniform.
“This legislation makes important investments in America’s national security by investing in equipment and in our servicemembers,” said Larsen. “Still, the bill is not perfect – once again, the House Armed Services Committee is calling for increased defense spending with no plan to pay for it. But I am pleased that the bill was written with bipartisan input and priorities I advocated for, including boosting resources Impact Aid to help schools better serve military students and their communities.”
Supporting Local Military Communities
Pilot safety remains a major problem with the EA-18G Growler. Spurred by Larsen and others, the committee authorized an additional $10 million above the budget request for development of improved pilot sensor technology in order to study and address hypoxia and related conditions.
Larsen also pushed the committee to give the Navy resources to address groundwater contamination resulting from the use of fire suppressants. The bill includes an additional $30 million for Navy perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)/ perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) remediation.
Larsen continued his long advocacy for Impact Aid, a program that provides funding to school districts that educate large numbers of military-connected students. His amendment to increase resources for Impact Aid from $30 to $50 million was included in the final bill that now heads to the House floor.
Reducing Government Waste
Larsen led a push for the Department of Defense to accelerate its use of high-tech bar codes. By marking parts and other assets with unique identifiers, the Department of Defense can better manage inventory, ensure spare parts are where they need to be, and improve management of its supply chain. Ultimately, Larsen’s provision will help reduce waste and increase oversight of inventory.
At Larsen’s urging, the NDAA reaffirms the committee’s support for accelerating the Department of Defense’s adoption of cloud computing, in order to save money, increase flexibility, and enhance security. An amendment offered by Larsen also encourages the Department of Defense to explore the benefits of large scale cloud computing for enhanced analytic capability.
Larsen also pressed the Department of Defense to think about the next generation of threats deployed forces face.
His amendment directed the Department of Defense to brief Congress on the drone threats the U.S. military faces overseas and emerging technologies to counter them, including directed energy and trained raptors. The briefing will include an analysis of host nation regulations, and what restrictions this places on self-defense. Larsen also asked for a briefing on technologies that can remotely sense multiple types of improvised explosive devices.
With the nation modernizing nuclear weapons and technology, Larsen pushed for increased oversight of this costly undertaking.
Larsen successfully included an amendment to require the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to annually assess whether the agency’s plans are affordable. According to a 2017 GAO report, the NNSA frequently overestimated its future budgets – meaning nuclear modernization plans may not be executable.
Larsen also included an amendment to extend the current prohibition on developing mobile inter-continental ballistic missiles through the end of FY 19.
Lastly, Larsen pushed for an amendment authored by Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01), to increase accountability for child abusers. The amendment would close a loophole which currently shields military retirement pay from being paid to victims of child abuse and help ensure justice for survivors of child abuse.
The NDAA now heads to the full House for a vote.
A summary of the House NDAA is available here.