WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, released the following statement after voting in favor of Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on the floor, which included 41 of Senator Ernst’s amendments, and passed the Senate with bipartisan support.
“The bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act is critical to ensuring our servicemembers have the resources and equipment they need while combatting the evolving global threats confronting our country.
“As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, strengthening our military, and ensuring the United States is ready to counter rising threats across the globe is my priority in the NDAA. I am pleased the NDAA included several of my provisions that direct our military to better address the growing threat of terrorism in Southeast Asia, as well as extend funding and authority to fend off threats from Russia, and provide support to Iowa’s sister state, Kosovo.
“Additionally, the NDAA contains my bipartisan efforts to thwart sexual assault, hold bad actors 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 am pleased the Senate has passed this critical legislation, bringing us one step closer to providing our servicemembers with the resources they need to best protect themselves and our country. I look forward to making sure it is sent to the president’s desk as quickly as possible.”
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
- S.1038 - Legislation to Examine Women-Owned Small Business Opportunities
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 Personnel Protection 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 Iowans.
- 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.
- A provision to modernize 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.
- A provision to strengthen and support 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 it 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 episodes create an unsafe, and potentially lethal, flying environment.
- A provision encouraging 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 respond 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.
- An amendment to authorize the expedited procurement of a commercially available off-the-shelf item, non-developmental item, or Government off-the-shelf material solution for an Interim Combat Service Rifle.
- An amendment expressing the sense of Congress on the threat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant poses to Iraq, including the Iraqi Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish communities.
- Cosponsored a report on the audit of the full financial statements of the Department of Defense.
- Cosponsored a report on the capabilities and activities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other violent extremist groups in Southeast Asia.
- Cosponsored an amendment that encourages government entities to relocate to existing military installations with excess space, like Rock Island Arsenal, before leasing commercial space.