WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today released the following statement after voting in favor of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included several of her measures, and passed with bipartisan support.

“This bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act ensures that our military has the resources and equipment they need to take on the numerous global threats our country faces, from combatting the spread of terrorism to protecting our nation from ballistic missile systems. This legislation also looks out for our servicemen and women returning from the battlefield by improving and expanding access to health care.

“Importantly, this bill also takes concrete steps to change the culture surrounding sexual assault in the military. The NDAA includes my bipartisan work with Senator Claire McCaskill to prevent retaliation against military sexual assault survivors by making retaliation its own crime in the military, increasing transparency, enhancing training, and implementing best practices. Furthermore, it includes my provision to provide quality legal counsel to military sexual assault survivors by creating a career track for Judge Advocate General Corps (JAGs) to specialize in criminal justice to provide more effective legal counsel for servicemembers.

“Additionally, the NDAA makes sweeping reforms to modernize the Department of Defense (DoD), including my provision to update DoD policies to provide transportation and ridesharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, access to military installations. The legislation also includes my measures to streamline operations and encourage greater efficiency through reforming program management standards to prevent cost overruns and lax oversight.

“I am grateful to my colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee for their work to put forward this legislation that ensures the continued success of our military and protection for our servicemembers. I am pleased it passed the Senate, and look forward to making sure we send the legislation to President Obama as quickly as possible.”

Click here to watch Senator Ernst speak on the Senate floor about her amendments to the NDAA.

Summary of Ernst Measures Included in the NDAA: 

  • Seeks to end retaliation against sexual assault survivors by making retaliation its own crime in the military.
  • Creates a pilot program for a litigation track for military lawyers to enhance criminal justice within the military and provide more effective defense and prosecution for servicemembers.
  • Provides additional workload at Rock Island Arsenal to turn no longer used military weapons into materials for new weapons.
  • Implements a one year delay in requiring the National Guard to convert some of its Dual Status Military Technicians to federal civilian status.
  • Makes permanent the National Guard State Partnership Program which enhances our military and diplomatic efforts around the world.
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to submit to Congress a report on the career progression track for female servicemembers.
  • Improves federal government program and project management practices by requiring the development of government wide standards, policies, and guidelines for program management.
  • Seeks to reduce drunk driving and provide employment opportunities to military families by requiring the DoD to develop a policy to afford base access to network transportation companies.
  • Enhances whistleblower protections for those servicemembers and DoD employees who report wrongdoing at the DoD.
  • Requires the DoD to report on the progress of women in previously closed combat positions.
  • Provides funds for much needed renovations at the Women in Military Service for American Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Provides funds to the Army and Marine Corps to enhance the small arms and ammunition capabilities of our Soldiers and Marines.
  • Requires the Army to reevaluate increases in overhead at military intelligence headquarters which seeks to eliminate unnecessary overhead, waste, and mismanagement, as well as to enhance intelligence support to our warfighters.
  • Requires the Army to certify it was using certain military intelligence funds correctly in order to ensure the proper spending of Americans’ tax dollars.
  • Urges the Army to enhance its military intelligence capabilities by keeping track of its intelligence professionals who have regional and academic expertise in certain geographical regions of the globe.
  • Maintains suicide prevention programs in the Army Reserves and National Guard.
  • Requires the DoD to report on its acquisition of sole source contracts which would enhance congressional oversight to ensure the DoD is getting the best value for taxpayer dollars.
  • Requires the military service senior intelligence officers to have an active security clearance.
  • Urges the DoD to enhance its military intelligence leadership by assigning general officers with military intelligence experience to serve as the military services senior intelligence officers.
  • Authorizes the Navy to award historical World War II and Korea War era rifles to Marines and Sailors who win military marksmanship competitions.
  • Ensures our military leaders set physical standards for servicemembers, instead of political appointees.

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