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Congressman Brown Advances Policies Promoting Diversity, Inclusion, Justice and Military Modernization in FY21 National Defense Authorization Act

Washington, August 4, 2020
“The initiatives advanced in this bill have the capacity to be transformative in promoting racial justice, diversity as well as strengthening America’s standing in the world. We advance progressive ideals to support our servicemembers, improve readiness, sharpen our combat edge, foster American leadership, our alliances and a culture that’s in line with the founding mission of our armed services.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-04). Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Committee and a 30-year Army veteran, joined a bipartisan majority to advance the sweeping National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (H.R. 6395)  The bill sets policy for the Department of Defense (DOD), and authorizes approximately $732 billion in discretionary spending for national defense, including approximately $69 billion of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

Additionally, in this year’s NDAA, the House of Representatives passed a 3 percent military pay increase, a process to redesignate military bases and Department of Defense property honoring leaders of the Confederacy and prohibit the display of the Confederate flag on department property, limit the President’s authority to deploy troops domestically and strengthened the DOD’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“Throughout this nation’s history, our military has been a leader in advancing racial justice and progress. Highly visible instances of racial violence have motivated millions of our fellow Americans to take the streets to demand systemic change, our military must also acknowledge these currents,” said Congressman Anthony Brown. “The initiatives advanced in this bill have the capacity to be transformative in promoting racial justice, diversity as well as strengthening America’s standing in the world. We advance progressive ideals to support our servicemembers, improve readiness, sharpen our combat edge, foster American leadership, our alliances and a culture that’s in line with the founding mission of our armed services.”

“I can’t say enough about Representative Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and his many contributions to the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act,” said Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “While there is still more work to be done, thanks to Mr. Brown’s dedicated leadership we were able to include a number of provisions that will foster a more diverse and inclusive military and identify areas where we must improve. At this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, it is critical that we establish policies that drive our military to be more representative of the country they serve. I am incredibly proud of the work Mr. Brown has done to make this a reality for our service men and women of color.”

The FY21 NDAA includes 12 bills and 27 amendments proposed by Congressman Brown, and over $187 million in projects that will advance the state’s role as a vanguard that helps keep the U.S. safe. 

A fact sheet on the National Defense Authorization Act is available here. A full list of policies put forward by Congressman Brown can be found below.

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion Within the Ranks:

  • Twelve years after Rep. Meek, Rep. Cummings, Rep. Clyburn, and Rep. Johnson led the formation of the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, and nearly a decade after the Commission delivered their final recommendations, this legislation includes key, systemic changes to ensure the full implementation of those findings, which would:

    • Establish a Chief Diversity Officer reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense, as well as a chief diversity officer in each of the military services reporting directly to the secretary of that service.

    • Require the Secretary of Defense to establish and maintain a Diversity and Inclusion Council. 

    • Require the Secretary of Defense and secretaries of each branch of the Armed Services to set an objective of an officer and enlisted corps that reflects the eligible U.S. population.

    • Require diversity and inclusion be a component of each National Defense Strategy.

    • Require annual reporting by the Department of Defense to identify barriers to advancement, ensure accountability on meeting goals and initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion.

    • Require prior to appointments to the O-9 and O-10 ranks the consideration of all qualified minority candidates prior to the consideration of any other candidates.

    • Require that membership of the selection boards represent the diversity of the Armed Forces.

    • Require the establishment of a comprehensive mentoring program and career development framework which would provide measurable metric outcomes with the goal of increasing diversity in senior ranks and retaining the best and brightest in the military.

  • Military Bases Honoring the Confederacy: a bipartisan amendment based on H.R.7155 requiring the Department of Defense to identify, report on a process, and change the names of all military bases, infrastructure, and other defense property named for individuals who served in the confederacy.

  • Confederate Flag: an amendment that prohibits the public display of the Confederate flag on Department of Defense installations.

  • H.R.7125, The ELITE Act: which would require the Department of Defense to conduct a study through a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) on the barriers facing minorities from serving in certain elite units of the Armed Forces, including pilots and special operations. Only 5 percent of Army Green Beret, 2 percent of SEALS and only 0.6 percent of the Air Force's pararescue jumpers are Black.

  • H.R. 6661, The PROMOTES Act: which would include science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) instruction or activities within the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) programs. 68 percent of JROTC cadets do not have the opportunity to take an Advanced Placement (AP) computer science course in their school. Many of these schools are disproportionately located in low-income and minority communities.

  • H.R.6574, The PANORAMA Act: which would mandate race, gender, ethnicity and other demographic metrics for academy nominations be collected and published on an annual basis. Women have never exceeded 27 percent of nominations made by Members of Congress. Nominations of minority candidates and those from marginalized communities continue to lag.

  • H.R.7198, The PIPELINE Act: a scholarship program to diversify the national security workforce through partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority institutions.

  • H.R.7157, The FLIGHT Act: which would provide new resources for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and minority institutions, with special emphasis on support for flight training. Only 1.7% of Air Force pilots (and less than 3% of civilian pilots) are Black.

  • H.R.7156, The SERVICE Act: which would establish a program to enhance the participation of Department of Defense contractors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics activities, with a particular emphasis on communities of color..

  • H.R.7126, Department of Defense Anti-Semitism and Racism Awareness Act of 2020: Partially included in the FY2020 NDAA, this legislation explicitly requires the workplace and equal opportunity and workplace and gender relations surveys to include experiences with supremacist activity, extremist activity, anti-Semitism or racism. According to a Military Times poll, 53 percent of minority service members said they had seen examples of white nationalism or racism among their fellow troops.

  • An amendment led by Rep. Speier, Rep. Brown, and others to establish a new Special Inspector General who would investigate the causes of underrepresentation of minorities within the officer corps and higher ranks of enlisted service members, the overrepresentation of service members of color in military justice proceedings, the Department of Defense’s diversity and inclusion efforts and the extent of white supremacy within the military. The Special Inspector General would report to Congress and share its findings and recommendations to address these longstanding and pervasive problems.

  • An amendment led by Rep. Haaland, Rep. Brown, and others to require the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretaries of the military departments, to develop a plan that ensures Armed Forces members are not unduly affected due to pregnancy, childbirth, or medical condition arising from pregnancy or childbirth.

  • An amendment led by Rep. Adams and Rep. Brown to require the Chief Diversity Officer to create a strategic plan that spurs participation by HBCUs and MSIs in research, development, testing, and evaluation activities.

  • An amendment led by Rep. Torres, Rep. Brown, and others to encourage DOD to consider female soldiers who have served with valor as candidates for renaming military bases.

  • An amendment led with Rep. Langevin to ensure that the Olympics and Paralympics receive equivalent security assistance from the Department of Defense.

Investment in Maryland’s Military Installations:

  • $9.4M for a F–16 Mission Training Center at Joint Base Andrews: The new training center will be located near the Squadron Operations facility and the flight line in order to maximize training value and support efficient flight operations and aircrew training and management. The installation is scheduled to receive new mission training systems, and the base does not possess excess or suitable space to house the simulator devices and conduct supporting training and maintenance activities. 

  • $13M for a Consolidated Communications Center at Joint Base Andrews: The new building will serve as a Consolidated Communications Center (CCC) for the Air Force’s 89th and 744th Squadrons, supporting communications for the Air Force, White House, and other federal organizations.

  • $100M for the Bethesda Naval Hospital MEDCEN Addition/Alteration: The fourth and final increment for the Medical Center Addition/Alteration (MCAA), this project will construct a new addition for in-patient and out-patient medical care, renovate the existing hospital Buildings 9 and 10, and provide information systems. 

  • $25M for Energy Resilience And Conservation Investment Program Projects (ERCIP): $13.8M for Naval Support Activity at Bethesda and $18.5M for Naval Support Activity at South Potomac was authorized for projects that save energy and water, reduce DoD's energy costs, improve energy resilience and security, and contribute mission assurance.

  • $39.5M for a Reserve Training Center at Camp Fretterd Reisterstown: This project will provide a new reserve training center, a combat vehicle maintenance shop, a wash rack, and supply shed.

  • Chesapeake Bay Watershed: The legislation provides a general increase of $25M to the Readiness Environmental Protection Integration Program, a critical Department of Defense effort that contributes to protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed and encourages leveraging Federal-State partnerships like the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Maryland Defense and Aerospace Industry:

  • Collective Bargaining Rights: Preserved the Collective Bargaining right within the defense civilian workforce by prohibiting the Department of Defense from using appropriated funds to alter or remove rights previously negotiated by unions and established in existing contracts. 

  • Reforms to Public/Private Talent Exchanges: Amended existing statute on public private talent exchanges to ensure that individuals detailed to the Department of Defense cannot supervise federal employees or perform inherently governmental functions and that they are required to disclose their financial interests. Additionally, the Department was encouraged to utilize the revised program to expand access to expertise in artificial intelligence in private industry.

  • Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START): Establishes a research consortium of excellence for irregular warfare and advanced analytics within the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and authorizes $5 million in funding for these efforts in FY2021. START was previously a Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence, and is headquartered at the University of Maryland.

  • Transitioning Small Business Space Technology: Requires the Department of the Army to conduct a feasibility study in transitioning LiDAR remote sensing technology to application by the Army for persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance applications. The technology was originally developed for NASA by Maryland small businesses.

  • Vehicle Protection Suite (VPS): Provides additional funds for the Modular Active Protection System (MAPS) to invest in adaptive technology to protect our soldiers as they travel in the Army’s wheeled and tracked vehicle fleet. 

  • Freeze-Dried Platelets: Provides funds in the Combat Readiness Medical Research program to be used to support the planning and development of clinical trials of freeze-dried hemostatic products, especially platelet-derived products, and the development of unique packaging required for far forward deployed forces to prevent loss of life.

Strengthening Global Partnerships and Security:

  • The AFRICA Act of 2020: Requires the Secretary Defense to provide a report on activities and resources required to enhance security and economic partnerships between the United States and African countries, to include dual infrastructure projects, MILCON projects, training, and the State Partnership Program. 

  • H.R.6089, The U.S.-Africa Strategic Security Act: limiting the use of funds to be used to reduce the total number of United States Armed Forces deployed to the United States Africa Command area of responsibility. In December 2019, Defense Secretary Esper announced the Pentagon is considering proposals for a major reduction of American forces on the African continent. Such a reduction could jeopardize U.S. partnerships in the region and create instability. Required the Department to submit a report within 90 days detailing the effects, implications, and cost of a troop reduction in the AFRICOM Area of Operation.

  • H.R.6146, The OVERSEA Act: This bill directs the Government Accountability Office to report on the U.S. Coast Guard's allocation of resources to support its defense readiness mission.

  • Foxhound Replacement Aircraft: On January 5, 2020, a Foxhound aircraft was lost in the Al-Shabaab attack on the Manda Bay airfield in Kenya. The bill authorizes $40.1 million to replace this Special Operations Command asset that provides quick reaction, multi-sensor airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.

Energy Resiliency and Climate Change:

Servicemembers and Military Families:

  • H.R.7382, Guard and Reserve Retirement Points during COVID-19 Pandemic Act: authorizing the Secretary of Defense to grant credit towards retirement for members of the Armed Forces reserve components who cannot complete minimum annual training requirements due to cancellation or other extenuating circumstance arising from the COVID–19 pandemic.

  • An amendment led by Rep. Brown requires a briefing on the threat to the digital personas of senior leaders and the use of technology to mitigate associated risks. Many senior military leaders fall victim to having their persona replicated online to create false social media accounts that are often used to defraud victims of money. This effort seeks to identify, reduce and prevent that threat.

  • H.R.3185, The Defense Language Improvement Act: Included an amendment on behalf of Rep. Jimmy Panetta authorizing the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) to confer a Bachelor of Arts degree in foreign language upon any graduate who fulfills the degree requirements.  Currently, DLIFLC may confer an Associate of Arts degree in a foreign language.

  • H.R.7712: Included an amendment on behalf of Rep. Jimmy Panetta which would prohibit the Secretary of Defense from eliminating or modifying programs of the National Defense University supporting Department of Defense innovation and entrepreneurial education opportunities.military 

  • An amendment, introduced by Rep. Brown and Sen. Van Hollen and cosponsored by Sen. Cardin and Majority Leader Hoyer to provide the family of slain ROTC Graduate Lt. Richard W. Collins III with the benefits they’re owed following his death. Follows last year’s action ensuring that future ROTC graduates who die between commissioning and their first assignment are treated as having served in the military for the purpose of death benefits.

Asserting Congressional and Constitutional Oversight:

  • Fourth Estate Network Optimization: Requested a report on the status of the effort to consolidate information technology services away from legacy common use information technology services and into a single service provider, and a list of funding reallocated as a result of the transition.

  • Army Air to Ground Networking Radio Program (AGNR): Requested a briefing on the Army’s effort to modernize radio communication technology and increase interoperability through the Integrated Tactical Network (ITN), to include the acquisition strategy and how the Army plans to use open competition to ensure the best value for radio integration.

  • Next Generation Squad Weapons (NGSW): Requested a briefing on Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) efforts within the NGSW program to enhance soldier lethality and battlefield connectivity by integrating proven solutions for power, data energy efficiency, increased accuracy, and improved situational awareness. 

  • Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Sensors: Requested a report to ensure advanced capabilities are available to meet FVL platform timelines, to include equipping these platforms with advanced sensor payloads that will enhance operations across all peer and near-peer adversary environments and to minimize challenges in integrating these complex sensor payloads onto the platform. 

  • Resiliency Against Future Pandemics: Requested a briefing from the Department on the development of vaccines against botulism or plague, to include the acquisition strategy, the status of the development, the cost to complete the development, and the risks if development is discontinued. Additionally, the bill encourages the continued development of these efforts in order to protect service members and the general public.

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