WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) released the following statement after voting in support of the revised National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016.

“In the face of increasingly complex security challenges, it is critical that we move this bipartisan legislation forward to provide a comprehensive blueprint for our military and Department of Defense which includes long overdue reforms and resources to strengthen our national security; ensures our men and women in uniform have the tools needed to be successful; and eliminates unnecessary spending. This legislation also continues to build on efforts to strengthen policy for sexual assault prevention as well as increased victim support.

“Furthermore, the Senate is once again acting to help keep our most dangerous adversaries detained at Guantanamo Bay by requiring the Obama Administration to consult and gain congressional approval before relocating these terrorists to the United States. This would require a comprehensive plan, case-by-case determinations, and assurance of continued detention and intelligence collection.

“I also am pleased that the NDAA includes several of my provisions including improvements to the VA’s outreach for its peer-to-peer support program to help veterans suffering from mental health issues; an extension to the National Guard State Partnership Program; a measure to give the President the authority to directly arm the Kurdish Peshmerga with the weapons and equipment needed to fight against ISIS; and a provision to ensure that federal programs are efficient, on budget and on schedule, among many other critical measures.

“We can never forget the sacrifices our servicemembers make on our nation’s behalf every single day. Congress must remain united in this effort to ensure our troops have the necessary resources and support they deserve.

Ernst Provisions Included in the NDAA:

  • A provision which provides the President with the legal authority, if the President finds the Government of Iraq is not increasing its political inclusiveness, to directly arm the Kurdish Regional Government, in coordination with the Iraqi government to the extent necessary, to fight ISIS. This provision also provides the sense of Congress on the severity of the threat posed by ISIS to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan, and the security and stability of the region and the world. It also shares the sense that the U.S., in coordination with our coalition partners, provide without undue delay – the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga with the weapons and equipment, and training necessary to more effectively partner with the U.S. and other international partners to defeat ISIS.
  • A provision to improve the Clay Hunt SAV Act pilot program by requiring outreach of the VA’s community-based veteran peer support network to our wounded, ill, and injured service members, as well as all service members within 180 days of leaving service. This provision will ensure the VA will be proactive, instead of reactive, with its outreach to those who have sacrificed for our nation on this important mental health pilot program.
  • A provision requiring a joint report to the Senate Armed Services Committee from the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Navy, a plan to jointly modernize Army and Marine Corps small arms during a 15-year period. This provision seeks to reduce duplication of efforts between the services, potentially realize cost savings in developing common small arms weapons and technology, and improve the committee’s oversight of the modernization strategies of both of the branches of service whose primary mission it is to fight and win our nation’s land conflicts.
  • A provision, for the next five years, which provides new or current leases on Army Ammunition Plants, under the Army’s ARMS initiative, the option of extending a 25-year lease for an additional 25-year period. This provision will attract and retain greater investment, reduce facility sustainment cost, and provide a boost to some local communities - including the Des Moines County Iowa Army Ammunition Plant.
  • A provision which extends the National Guard State Partnership Program for five years.

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