WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, announced the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes 35 of Senator Ernst’s amendments, as well as multiple other measures to strengthen our nation’s security and support those who defend our nation. The Senate Armed Services Committee passed the NDAA with Senator Ernst’s support, and the bill will now go to the full Senate for further consideration.
Following the markup, Senator Ernst released the following statement:
“The NDAA builds upon my efforts in recent years to bolster our national security, and I am pleased that several of my bipartisan bills are included. The legislation makes the needs of our servicemembers a top priority, starting with key parts of my bipartisan bill to rectify compensation discrepancies among senior enlisted servicemembers and reduce the president’s authority to deny troops their mandated pay raise each year.
The NDAA also includes important provisions for Iowa and Iowa Guardsmen. My provisions in the NDAA extend a critical program providing members of the National Guard and Reserves, as well as their families and communities, with training in suicide prevention; and another requires the Department of Defense to track cyber and domestic response capabilities important to national security. It also includes my provision to increase workload at the Rock Island Arsenal, and to extend the authority for the Arsenal to lease excess space.
“Additionally, working to address various aspects of sexual violence and retaliation against survivors in the military is another priority of mine. The FY 2018 NDAA incorporated my bipartisan bills that thwart military sexual assault by mandating in-person, comprehensive sexual assault prevention training for newly enlisted servicemembers; hold our military accountable for disgusting online activity; and create a career track for the JAG corps in order to improve expertise within the military justice system. I remain committed to working to change the culture surrounding sexual assault and retaliation in the military, so that we may prevent such heinous crimes from happening.
“As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, I also worked to ensure this NDAA shapes policy to counter rising threats. To address the growing threat of terrorism in Southeast Asia, one of my provisions directs U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Special Operations Command – Pacific to develop a strategy with our allies in the region. To counter the increasing threat of Russia, my provisions increase funding and extend the authority for the U.S. to provide lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine, and ensure no action the U.S. takes could be seen as legitimizing Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. Lastly, In order to ensure Russia’s next target is not Iowa’s sister state, Kosovo, I also provide support for Kosovo as they make the gradual transition from a security force to a regular military.
“My legislation in the NDAA, in cooperation with the important work put forth by my colleagues in the Senate Armed Services Committee, is designed to enhance the performance of our men and women in uniform so that they are prepared to defend our nation and face the ever-evolving threats of tomorrow. I look forward to continuing this discussion with my colleagues in the Senate as we work to move this important package forward.”
Summary of Ernst Bills Included in FY ‘18 NDAA:
- S. 307 - Department of Defense Emergency Response Capabilities Database Enhancement Act of 2017
- S.1243 - Educating Servicemembers in Training On Prevention (E-STOP) Act
- S.1316 - Suicide Prevention And Resilience Program For The National Guard And Reserves
- S.1349 - Leadership Recognition Act
- S.1408 - Enhancement of Effective Prosecution and Defense in Courts-Martial
- S.1296 - PRIVATE Act
Summary of Additional Ernst Provisions Included in FY ‘18 NDAA:
- A provision authorizing the Secretary of the Army to award the Personnel Protection Equipment award of the Army to former members of the Army. The Personal Protective Equipment award is given to servicemembers whose lives were saved by their equipment, such as helmets or body armor.
- A provision that clarifies and revises the definition of a commercial item, to address concerns from small businesses who seek to sell items to both the Department of Defense and everyday Iowan’s.
- A provision increasing the procurement of commercial off the shelf personal protective equipment, like body armor. Iowa is home to many companies that build military equipment, and even some who make the strongest body armor in the world.
- A provision restricting the Department of Defense from the use of reverse auctions and lowest price technically acceptable contracting methods when procuring critical safety items, like parachutes. This ensures the best parachutes are purchased for our servicemembers, not just the most cost-effective.
- A congressional charter for Spirit of America to allow increased partnership with the Department of Defense as they seek to support U.S. missions abroad.
- Modernizes authority to help the country of Colombia to ensure the country is able to counter armed groups and terrorist organizations. Senator Ernst has been a leader in calling for the U.S. to address the rise of groups, like ISIS, in Latin America.
- Strengthens and supports the National Guard counterdrug program, like the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center found in Iowa.
- A provision reviewing the Department of Defense’s effort to combat the funding of terrorism through the illicit trafficking in commodities, to include tobacco.
- A provision authorizing the Secretary of Defense to provide assistance to partner forces to support U.S. special operations to combat irregular warfare threats.
- A provision extending the authority for and increasing the funding of lethal and non-lethal support to Ukraine to deter Russian aggression.
- A provision extending the ban on military cooperation with the Russia.
- A provision prohibiting any funding for activity that would recognize the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea.
- A provision extending U.S. anti-tunnel cooperation activities with Israel.
- A provision directing U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Special Operations Command – Pacific to develop a strategy to combat the growing threat of terrorism in Southeast Asia. Senator Ernst has been a leader in calling for a strategy to address growing terrorism in Southeast Asia.
- A provision supporting the U.S assistance to the Kosovo Security Force as its makes its transition to a multi-ethnic army for the Republic of Kosovo.
- A provision that would require the Secretary of the Navy to provide quarterly updates on the progress of the Navy’s Physiological Episode Team and their efforts to combat physiological episodes in jets. Physiological episode create an unsafe, and potentially lethal, flying environment.
- Encourage the Department of Defense to expand its efforts beyond lightweight polymer ammunition casing into polymer magazine pallets, rounds, and other related equipment.
- A provision that allows the U.S. Marine Corps to award M-1 rifles as trophies for marksmanship competitions.
- A provision recognizing computer-based human simulation testing Human Simulation Report Language, like that found at some of Iowa’s leading universities. Human simulation research lowers costs to enhance warfighter mobility, survivability, welfare and training.
- A provision recognizing military paint training facilities that perform painting and coating operations for the Department of Defense, a key program also found at some of Iowa’s leading universities. These training programs save the Department time and funding resources.
- A provision acknowledging injuries sustained by helicopter crewmembers due to the type of restraints in use. It encourages the Army to use the Mobile Aircrew Restraint System currently in use by the Air Force to reduce the number of injuries to crewmembers.
- A provision providing a technical change to last year’s provision for companies like Uber and Lyft to have access to bases.
- A provision that supports Department of Defense to start ride-share pilots on base to cut down on DUIs.
- A provision that underscores the importance of protecting the religious liberty of members of the Armed Forces and directs the Department of Defense – in consultation with commanders, chaplains, and judge advocates – to develop and implement a comprehensive training program on religious liberty issues.
- A provision recognizing the risk of Foot and Mouth Disease, or other foreign animal disease, to our food production economy and our national security. It directs the Department of Defense and Department of Agriculture to analyze our ability to response to such an attack.
- A provision requiring a report on the adoption of project, program, and portfolio management standards within Department of Defense.
- A provision that recognizes our adversaries’ use of low-cost Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and the United States’ need to expand its capability to protect against UAS threats.
- A provision requiring a report on the Department of Defense’s implementation of direct hiring authorities for military spouses.
- A provision requiring the Secretary of the Army to transfer excess and unused equipment from the Defense Distribution Depot to Rock Island Arsenal to be used to build new warfighting equipment.