Monday, 27 June 2022

Garamendi secures key wins for California in House-passed National Defense Authorization Act

This week, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, voted to pass S. 1605, the bipartisan, bicameral text of the “National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022,” by a bipartisan vote of 363-70.

The annual legislation supports all aspects of the United States military, including all personnel, installations, and equipment for our national defense.

The legislation now heads to the United States Senate, which is expected to also pass the bill and send it to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

As chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, Garamendi authored the Readiness Subcommittee’s provisions in the final NDAA. Garamendi also secured funding for several key projects at Travis and Beale Air Force Bases in his Congressional District.

Specifically, the final legislation includes $33 million for Beale’s 940 ARW Squad Operations and Maintenance Complex and provides $13 billion for military construction projects nationwide, building upon the $295.7 million in ongoing military construction projects Garamendi secured for Travis Air Force Base.

Additionally, Garamendi helped secure $20 million in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, or ISR, planning and design funds to help build facilities like the Multi-Doman Operations Complex at Beale Air Force Base.

“I am pleased that Congress has once again come together to address critical issues facing our service members and the more than 1,000 military installations worldwide,” Garamendi said. “As Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee, I am requiring the military to be an ally in the fight against the climate crisis and reduce unnecessary fossil fuel use across the U.S. military. Our bill aggressively identifies and cleans up Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances contamination at military installations to protect our service members and neighboring communities. This issue is close to home for me, as high levels of PFAS contaminants were found at Travis Air Force Base in my district.”

“This year’s NDAA includes strong provisions to reverse the precipitous rise in military training deaths throughout the service branches in recent years, which are avoidable and completely unacceptable. I’ve held three hearings on this matter as Chair of the Readiness Subcommittee, including a May 2021 hearing that included powerful testimony from bereaved families of service members who died due to preventable training mishaps. The Readiness Subcommittee’s contributions to this year’s NDAA will transform the military command’s culture of neglect into a culture of safety by establishing a joint safety council and accident investigation review board to fully investigate training accidents and prevent similar incidents in the future,” Garamendi continued.

“I’m also pleased that several of my amendments to the NDAA to unlock new military resources to help fight wildfires were adopted in the legislation. As California’s wildfire season continues to become longer and deadlier, all available military resources should be utilized to help track and fight fires,” Garamendi continued.

“This year’s NDAA also improves childcare facilities on bases to ensure military families have the quality childcare and daycare support they deserve. Our bill also updates the ‘Tenant’s Bill of Rights’ that I established last year to provide good-quality on-base housing for service members and their families,” Garamendi continued.

“Throughout the NDAA markup process, I fought to support several ‘Buy American’ amendments that were introduced at the hearing to ensure the military uses American materials and workers to the extent possible. I’m pleased that several of those provisions were included in this legislation,” Garamendi concluded.

Specifically, this year’s Readiness Subcommittee’s contributions to the NDAA address:

Climate change and resiliency:

Installation Master-planning: Requires each military service branch to complete installation master plans at two of their most at-risk installations within one year.

Microgrids: Requires the Defense Department to amend the on-base building codes to incorporate microgrids early in the planning process, including renegotiating contracts for existing on-installation renewable energy projects to enhance installation resiliency during power disruptions.

Energy efficiency targets for defense data centers: Requires the DOD to assess energy and water usage at existing data centers and set conservation goals for new data centers.

Requires DOD to assess strategic vulnerabilities to climate change: Adds a climate and extreme weather facility resiliency assessment to the existing annual reporting requirement on the health of the organic industrial base, which supports American manufacturing.
Quality of Life Infrastructure, Family Housing, and Working Mothers

Effective oversight of military privatized housing: Requires that performance evaluations of certain officers and enlisted personnel with duties related to military privatized housing include an assessment of the extent to which the individual exercised effective oversight and leadership of military privatized housing.

Improves child development centers and child care for military families: Requires the military departments to conduct regular safety inspections and develop 10-year facility improvement plans for child development centers on bases.

Facilities Sustainment, Restoration, and Modernization projects: Requires the Defense Department to spend at least 5% of total building cost for repairing and improving FSRM facilities like barracks and dormitories.

Supports active-duty Coast Guard members: Adds the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) society to the list of mutual aid societies eligible to receive enhanced support from a military organization.

Preventing avoidable training deaths and building a culture of safety:

New Joint Safety Council: Establishes a DOD Joint Safety Council responsible for overseeing all operational safety matters and establishing better safety standards.

Accident Investigation Review Board: Establishes a DOD Accident Investigation Review Board to improve oversight and independent review of mishap investigations.

Plan to prevent tactical vehicle training accidents: Requires the Army and Marine Corps to implement the recommendations contained in the Government Accountability Offices’ investigative report on tactical vehicle mishaps.
Environmental Cleanup and PFAS Policy:

AFFF spill prevention: Requires best practices to prevent or mitigate AFFF spills.

National Guard Access to Defense Environmental Cleanup Funds: Allows DOD funding to be used for all environmental restoration and cleanup activities at National Guard installations, which are jointly controlled by the military and state governments.

Public Disclosure of Results of DOD Testing for PFAS: Builds on provisions from previous NDAAs to increase transparency with defense communities impacted by PFAS contamination. Includes Reps. Garamendi and Elissa Slotkin’s (D-MI) “Military PFAS Testing Disclosure Act” (H.R.4339).

Contested logistics and operational energy:

Contested Logistics Working Group: Creates a working group of program planners, energy staff, joint staff, and geographic combatant commands to enhance the integration of military department energy initiatives into operational planning and platform development.

Operational energy: Requires DOD to assess and report on alternative fuels, including hydrogen, that can be used by the military instead of fossil fuels.

Global bulk fuel management and delivery: Requires the Secretary of Defense to designate a Combatant Command as the agency responsible for global bulk fuel storage, delivery, and distribution; directs the so-designated Combatant Command to conduct a strategy on the infrastructure and programs necessary to optimally support global bulk fuel management of the Department of Defense.

Supports military working dogs: Includes Congressman Garamendi’s “Support Our Military Working Dogs Act” (H.R.1739), which directs DOD to pay fees associated with the transfer of adopted dogs to the adoption agency or individual; Also allows the DOD’s Joint Trauma Education and Training Directorate to provide veterinary care and services for military working dogs and their veterinary caretakers.

Burn pits: Prohibit the use of open-air burn pits during overseas contingency operations unless an exemption is issued by the Secretary of Defense for a particular location and exigent reason. Improves public transparency of burn pits usage by requiring Congressional notification detailing the location, size, duration, and need of the burn pit, the number of personnel assigned to the location, and the personal protective equipment or other methods that will be used by those personnel to mitigate the health effects of said pit.

Additionally, Garamendi successfully added the following provisions to the NDAA at Armed Services Committee markup or on the House floor in September:

Combating wildfires: Garamendi successfully added the following amendments from his “Military Support for Fighting Wildfires Act” (H.R.5560) to the NDAA to allow U.S. military assets to be used in the fight against wildfires throughout the nation:

• Reauthorizing the FireGuard program with the California National Guard to use satellite tracking technology to track and fight California’s wildfires.
• Directing the Department of Defense to implement its own recommendations on improving the use of unmanned aircraft systems by the National Guard, from Congressionally directed report.
• Requiring the DOD to include the accounting of costs for wildfire response in the annual budget request to Congress, including military support for states and FEMA/federal land management agencies. Current law only requires DOD to account for climate adaptation and mitigation costs on U.S. military installations in the President’s annual budget request.
• Removing the arbitrary cap on the number of excess military aircraft that DOD may transfer at no cost to DHS (FEMA) or the U.S. Forest Service for firefighting. Current law only allows DOD to transfer 7 excess military aircraft. Requires an annual report to Congress by DOD on transfers of excess military aircraft authorized by prior NDAA’s.
• Requiring the DOD/OMB to review existing authorities for using Air Force and Air National Guard modular airborne fire-fighting systems and other military assets to fight wildfires. Then requires an update to the 2004 Congressionally directed report on any changes to the law needed to enhance those authorities.

Civil Reserve Air Fleet: Garamendi also successfully added an amendment to the legislation that strengthens transparency and oversight of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) to ensure that military air charter contracts go to US-based airlines.

Honoring veterans: Garamendi successfully added an amendment to the legislation that authorizes the Maritime Administrator to use appropriated funds to purchase duplicate medals authorized under Congressman Garamendi’s Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2020 (Public Law 116–125). This awards the Congressional Gold Medal — one of our nation’s highest honors — to the Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II.

Creating local jobs: The legislation includes Reps. Garamendi and Andy Kim’s (D-NJ) “Put Our Neighbors to Work Act” (H.R.6764). This legislation creates more local jobs for military construction projects by increasing transparency and awareness of contracting and subcontracting business opportunities for multi-million-dollar military construction projects.

DOD Joint Task Forces on Terrorism and Transnational Crime: Extends the U.S. Department of Defense’s authority to interagency Joint Task Forces coordinate actions by the military and federal agencies on counter-narcotics, counterterrorism, or counter-transnational organized crime activities. Congressman Garamendi has introduced legislation (H.R.5862) to permanently reauthorize these DOD Joint Task Forces and expand them to combat wildfire poaching and trafficking.

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