Defense Policy Bill Includes Larsen Provisions to Support Military Communities, Strengthen National Security

Nov 15, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.— On Tuesday, the U.S. House voted 356-70 to approve the Conference Report for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), a member of the conference committee, successfully secured provisions in the conference report that would benefit the Pacific Northwest including a larger budget for Impact Aid and increased funding for military communities with groundwater contamination.

“The NDAA will strengthen military readiness, provide servicemembers with essential training and equipment, and support them with a 2.4 % military pay raise. I am pleased that, for the first time, the defense bill acknowledges that climate change is a direct threat to national security. And the bill rightly highlights the importance of diplomacy and working with allies as part of a complete national security strategy,” said Larsen, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Locally, the NDAA includes provisions that will benefit Northwest Washington’s military bases and families. It increases the authorization for Department of Defense Impact Aid, a program that provides funding to schools that educate servicemembers’ children but have reduced property tax revenues because of a military installation. Earlier this year, Larsen’s amendment increased Impact Aid authority from $30 million to $50 million, and the conference committee agreed on this higher level.

“Impact Aid is critical for Washington’s military communities – including Oak Harbor,” said Larsen. “Increased funding for this program will strengthen Washington’s military bases and ensure that servicemembers’ children are receiving the best education possible.”

Coupeville and Oak Harbor are among the many communities nationwide that face groundwater contamination from the military’s use of firefighting foam, which contains chemicals known as PFOA and PFOS. In a letter to conference committee members, Larsen requested an increase in the remediation budget for PFOA/PFOS, research into safe and effective alternate foams, and funding for a nationwide health impact study on PFOA/PFOS exposure. All of these proposals were included in the final legislation.

“People have a right to clean drinking water. I am pleased that the conferees agreed that cleanup and scientific research to address PFOA/PFOS contamination was a priority. And I will work with the Navy to ensure Coupeville and Oak Harbor get the resources they need,” said Larsen.

Other provisions shaped by Rep. Larsen include:

  • Eliminating language in the House-passed bill which undermined the New START treaty
  • Authorizing the acquisition of a polar icebreaker
  • Closing a loophole which currently shields military retired pay from court orders to satisfy judgments in cases of child abuse (originally introduced by Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01))
  • Authorizing the purchase of 17 KC-46A tankers
  • Promoting readiness of Navy mine warfare units

Earlier this year, the House and Senate each passed a version of the NDAA. As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, Larsen was a member of the conference committee tasked with reconciling hundreds of differences between the two bills into final legislation. In a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members, Larsen urged members to support provisions that would benefit national security and Northwest Washington’s military bases and families.