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House Armed Services Committee Passes National Defense Authorization with Brown Amendments, Supports Key Maryland Priorities

June 30, 2017
Press Release
Brown raises concerns on increasing defense without a national security strategy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Anthony G. Brown (D-MD) joined fellow Democrats in the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R. 2810), which authorizes and sets policy for the Department of Defense. The bill was reported to the full House of Representatives by a 60 to 1 vote. The FY18 NDAA authorizes $631 billion for national defense, and an additional $64.6 billion for overseas contingency operations. This NDAA improves our nation’s military readiness, supports military families, recommits to our efforts against ISIS, the Taliban and Russian aggression, and strengthens our nation’s defense against cyberwarfare and terrorism.

“This year’s NDAA takes necessary steps to improve our nation’s combat readiness, with greater investments in training, equipping, recruiting and retaining the forces, as well addressing the modernization challenges of ensuring the United States maintains and extends our technological and warfighting edge,” said Congressman Brown. “However, the steps we have taken are risky given the Administration’s failure to develop a coherent national defense strategy. As Defense Secretary Mattis has stated, ‘Since the end of the Cold War, America’s strengths have buffered us against many of the consequences of operating without a strategy, but it is a costly way to do business.’ We need a smart, strategic approach to national security that provides clear goals and objectives, and that incorporates a whole of government approach. As Congress finalizes this complex defense budget, I call upon the Administration to supplement its budget request to restore full funding to the State Department and USAID. Furthermore, the Administration should engage Congress to revisit the authorization to use military force and to ensure the involvement of the American people in determining the extent to which we will invest our nation’s blood and treasure.”

“In the same way we put partisan ideology aside and worked together to make the necessary investments in our national defense, we must make the necessary investment in our infrastructure, education, workforce development and public health. We owe it to our service men and women not only to have the resources needed to fight abroad, but to live the life at home that guarantees the American Dream – good schools, a family supporting job and safe neighborhoods,” added Brown. “I urge the Administration and House Majority Leadership to make an equal commitment and investment in both defense and domestic programs that power our local economies and keep us safe.”

The FY18 NDAA includes several amendments proposed by Congressman Brown and over $607 million in projects that will advance the state’s role as a vanguard that helps keep the U.S. safe. These include:

Investment in Maryland’s Military Installations:

  • Joint Base Andrews: $143.5 million for construction of a Presidential Aircraft Complex to support operations of new aircraft and to accelerate the fielding process for the Huey, or the UH-1N helicopter;
  • Pax River: $7 million to complete the broadband data link connecting Wallops Island Flight Facility and the Atlantic Test Ranges at Naval Air Station Patuxent River Project;
  • Fort Meade: $314 million for continued recapitalization of the National Security Agency;
  • Bethesda Naval Hospital Medical Center: $123.8 million for additions and alterations;
  • Sykesville Freedom Readiness Center: $19 million for continued construction of the Army National Guard’s Freedom Readiness Center; and
  • U.S. Naval Academy: Permits leasing of land for construction of a joint headquarters for the Naval Academy Alumni Association and Naval Academy Foundation in Annapolis, MD.

Supporting Terrorism Research at University of Maryland: Protects endangered funding for the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a consortium of universities that investigate terrorism and counterterrorism efforts headquartered at the University of Maryland. By formally connecting the Department of Defense (DOD) to START, Congressman Brown’s efforts will ensure that the two entities work together to advance counterterrorism efforts.

Modernization of the DD-214 Form: Modernizes the transition process for today’s service members by including a box specifically for e-mail addresses on the DD-214, or the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. The contact information presently collected can quickly become outdated as service members move during their transition back into civilian life. This addition better reflects how today’s veterans communicate and will ensure that veterans can be contacted to receive the benefits they deserve.

Congressman Brown has led 17 town halls to listen to the concerns of his constituents. As a result, he championed additional provisions important to the Fourth Congressional District of Maryland. They include:

Education:

  • Provides $35.9 million for continued research at Historically Black Colleges & Universities and other minority-serving institutions, $2 million more than enacted in the FY17 NDAA and $10 million more than requested in the FY18 President’s Budget Request; and
  • Provides a $5 million increase in funding for the Educational Partnership Agreement, which enhances STEM education.

Climate Change:

  • Requires DOD to prepare a report outlining the military installations that are most likely to face impacts from climate change.

Opioid Epidemic:

  • Directs DOD to study the impact of opioid use on military recruitment as well as the potential for opioid-alternative treatments and therapies for those currently serving in the Armed Forces.

Small Business:

  • Provides continued funding for small business initiatives, including $2.3 million allotted for the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs; and
  • Increases opportunities for Maryland start-ups working on new technologies with implications for DOD objectives, such as high bandwidth tethered unmanned air systems technology.

Civilian Workforce:

  • Directs DOD to create a civilian workforce plan, which will outline the ways in which military force structure changes affect and require changes in the civilian force; and
  • Halts the implementation of recent changes to DOD per diem policy, which forced some civilian Department employees to pay out-of-pocket for lodging and other needs during official travel.

Diversity in the Armed Forces:

  • Directs the GAO to provide a report analyzing the existence of disparities in the convictions of white and black service members under the Uniform Code for Military Justice; and
  • Creates an Army scholarship program at HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, which will be named after Lieutenant Henry Ossian Flipper, the first African-American graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Immigration:

  • Ensures that service members who are legal permanent residents are provided information upon enlistment on the processes by which they can seek naturalization; and
  • Ensures that no funds from this authorization can be used to plan, develop or construct any barriers or walls along the international border of the U.S.

Acquisition Reform:

  • Streamlines bureaucracy, increases competition, and provides the Pentagon the tools it needs to improve programs within the DOD.

“I am pleased the FY18 NDAA will support Maryland’s more than 20 military facilities, thousands of civilian and military jobs, and extend the state’s leadership in biodefense, avionics, cybersecurity, space exploration, satellite technology, informatics and weapons testing, UAVs, and the design and manufacturing of military aircraft," added Brown.