House Passes and Senate Armed Services Approves NDAA
The National Defense Authorization Act handily passed Thursday by the House of Representatives authorizes $552.1 billion in spending for national defense and an additional $79.4 billion for overseas contingency operations. The vote was 325 to 98.
In addition to provisions mentioned previously, the final House bill includes several others supportive of the National Guard, including:
- An amendment offered by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., which increases the National Guard Youth Challenge program by $55 million.
- An amendment offered by McKinley which requires the defense secretary to establish an electronic tour calculator so that reservists could keep track of aggregated active-duty tours of 90 days or more served within a fiscal year.
- An amendment offered by Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, which requires a baseline mental health assessment before any individual joins the military in order to bring mental health to parity with physical health during recruitment screenings. The amendment ensures the screening results cannot be used during promotion or assignment consideration, and requires a report with recommendations from National Institutes of Mental Health and other relevant experts identifying best practices for the assessment.
- An amendment offered by Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., which requires a report on the progress made to establish Army National Guard cyber-protection teams.
- Another amendment offered by Israel and Hanna which expresses a sense of Congress in support of public-private partnerships to enhance Defense Department efforts on mental health care for service members.
- An amendment offered by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., which directs the defense secretary to consider how employment agencies will work with state and county Department of Veterans Affairs offices and state National Guard offices when establishing requirements for new employment pilot programs for recently separated service members.
- An amendment offered by Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif., and Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., which creates a blueprint for a direct-hire jobs placement program benefiting the Guard and Reserves.
- An amendment offered by Hanna and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., which allows memorial headstone or grave markers to be made available for purchase by Guard or Reserve members who served for at least six years, at no cost to the government.
- An amendment offered by Rep. John Carney, D-Del., and Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., which modifies Section 933 of last year’s NDAA on a report on cyber security and Guard capability.
- An amendment by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., which requires the secretary of the Army to evaluate potential cost savings and effects on the Guard’s recruitment efforts of the requirement that all service members wait one year after training before becoming eligible for the Army’s tuition assistance program.
- An amendment offered by Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., which expresses the concerns of Congress as it relates to tactical airlift following the withdrawal of combat forces from Afghanistan and requires a report on the five-year plan for tactical airlift laydown prior to any permanent force structure changes of tactical airlift.
- An amendment offered by Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., Rep. Nick Rahall, D- W.Va., Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., which establishes the National Commission on the Future of the Army to undertake a comprehensive study of the structure of the Total Army to determine: (1) the necessary size; (2) the proper force mixture of the active component and reserve component; (3) missions; (4) force generation policies, including assumptions behind those policies; and (5) how the structure should be modified to best fulfill mission requirements in a manner consistent with available resources.
Additionally, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version of the NDAA later in the day. Reports indicated that the marked up version includes provisions to protect the A-10 Thunderbolt fighter from retirement for an additional year, requires a series of annual reports on implementation of the 42 recommendations of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, allow for some Army aviation restructuring and creates a National Commission on the Future of the Army.
A final NGAUS analysis of the two versions of the NDAA will be posted as soon as text is available.