Food Assistance, Impact Aid & Protections for LGBT Contractors Among Aims of Larsen-Led Effort to Shape Annual Defense Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) urged the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to adopt provisions pertaining to the accessibility of military food assistance programs, increased support for education programs for military families, and protection of LGBT federal contractors – among other priorities – in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

In a letter, Larsen specifically called for language clarifying that Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food assistance programs can operate on military bases and for an increase in federal support for school districts near military bases through Impact Aid funding. The letter also expressed Larsen’s support for preserving civil rights protections for LGBT federal contractors, for a key administrative fix to ensure continuous TRICARE coverage for certain National Guard members, and for the authorization of continued research into low enriched uranium naval reactors.

“I believe we must do more as a Congress to address military food insecurity. One key step would be to allow entities operating the Special Supplemental Nutrition program for WIC to use space on base,” wrote Larsen. Earlier this year, Larsen and Senator Murray won a victory for the Women, Infants, and Children office at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and for military families by successfully pushing the Department of the Navy to reverse its decision to close the office.

In his letter, Larsen continued his longstanding advocacy for Impact Aid – a program that benefits school districts that have reduced tax bases due to military installations. “These schools educate large numbers of military family members,” wrote Larsen, “I request that the final bill include an increase in the authority for…Impact Aid, including the supplemental program for students with disabilities.”

Additionally, Larsen called out section 1094 of the House bill which would roll back civil rights for LGBT employees of federal contractors. The provision would “directly undermine protections for LGBT members of the workforce…it could legalize discrimination and should be rejected,” wrote Larsen.

On TRICARE, Larsen urged the inclusion of an amendment he successfully included in the House version of the NDAA, which would ensure continuous coverage for National Guard members who transition from full-time Federal Duty to State Active Duty status. During the response to the 2014 Oso mudslide, National Guard members who made such a transition were forced to temporarily switch to state health insurance – a process that was disruptive and inefficient for both the state and the federal government. Larsen’s amendment, modeled off of legislation from Rep. Suzan DelBene, would prevent these disruptions in coverage.

Lastly, Larsen pressed for authorization of continued research into low enriched uranium for naval reactors. These advanced reactors could one day eliminate the need for highly enriched uranium on Navy ships – thereby “achieving both nonproliferation and financial goals by…reducing the security needs associated with manufacture, transport, and storage of naval reactor fuel.”

Larsen is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

For full text of the letter, click HERE.

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