Duckworth Provisions to Support Troops, Improve Military Readiness, Reduce Reliance on Foreign Oil Included in Committee-Passed 2023 Defense Bill
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years and is chair of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Subcommittee on Airland, highlighted several key priorities she authored and successfully included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed the full committee on a widely bipartisan vote this week. The FY2023 NDAA, which is now set to be considered by the full U.S. Senate, authorizes funding for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), sets our nation’s defense policy and ensures that our servicemembers have the tools they need to defend our nation. Duckworth’s priorities in the Committee-passed version of the FY2023 NDAA include provisions to address the scourge of military hunger by expanding the Basic Needs Allowance, reduce the DoD’s reliance on foreign oil, improve the promotion process for National Guard members, enhance our military’s readiness by strengthening supply chains and transitioning to clean energy and strengthen partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region. The Committee-passed NDAA also includes a 4.6% pay raise for our troops.
“The brave men and women in uniform who serve our nation at home and abroad deserve to know that our country stands behind them as they and their families sacrifice to defend our country and our Constitution,” said Duckworth. “Though I do not support every provision in this compromise, I’m proud that the bipartisan bill we favorably reported includes a well-deserved pay raise for our troops and several of my provisions to support our servicemembers, improve military readiness, reduce reliance on foreign oil, boost development of clean energy, enhance strategic partnerships and strengthen our national security. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue improving the NDAA and ensure Congress passes a strong bill that lets our troops know we have their backs.”
Key Duckworth provisions included in this year’s NDAA would:
Support a Strong and Ready Total Force by:
- Expanding Eligibility for Military Nutrition Allowances: A Duckworth-authored provision that amends last year's Basic Needs Allowance to expand the pool of military members who qualify for the support. By adjusting the maximum income from 130% to 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, more military members can access needed nutritional support in the face of growing military hunger challenges. In last year’s NDAA, Duckworth successfully advocated for the inclusion of a modified version of her bipartisan Military Hunger Prevention Act, which created a basic needs allowance for servicemembers below 130% of the federal poverty guidelines to assist them with affording basic necessities, particularly food.
- “Far too many of our military families experience hunger because of unintended barriers that make them unable to access essential nutrition assistance programs,” Duckworth said regarding this provision. “As someone whose family relied on public nutrition programs after my father lost his job, and who served in uniform for most of my adult life, I’m so glad this year’s NDAA will expand the Basic Needs Allowance to help make sure more of our servicemembers and their families have enough to eat.”
- Identifying Barriers to Access Affordable Healthcare for Reservists and Their Families: A provision based off Duckworth’s Access to Healthcare for Reservists Act that would authorize a professional analysis of the true budgetary impacts and improvements to readiness that would result from expanding access to DoD healthcare for members of the Reserve Components and their family members, ultimately allowing the Congress to build an actionable plan for improving access to affordable healthcare for Reservists and their families.
- Improving the Promotions Process for the National Guard: Duckworth-authored provisions based off her National Guard Promotion Improvement Act to improve the promotion process for officers and warrant officers in the National Guard by addressing significant delays, mandating backpay for delays and streamlining the process.
- “Every day, our National Guardsmen and women work to protect and defend our Constitution as well as respond to communities in times of crisis—the least we can do is make sure they receive their earned promotion in a timely manner, so their pay and benefits match the job they’re doing,” said Duckworth when introducing this standalone legislation. “The current bureaucratic process results in lengthy delays that are unacceptable. Every member of the National Guard deserves their promotions to be recognized on time so they don’t fall behind in their careers, which is why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill that would assess and review the process, provide recommendations to improve it and ensure backpay for delayed promotions.”
- Supporting Partners in the Fight Against ISIS: A Duckworth-authored provision expressing strong support for our assistance to Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish Peshmerga Forces, in their ongoing work to defend Iraq and its people from the threat of ISIS. This provision would authorize an assessment of these partner forces' capabilities to counter air and missile threats, including those posed by unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and what training and equipment would be required to improve their air defense capabilities.
- Improving Accessibility of Secure Facilities: A Duckworth-authored provision authorizing the DoD to review barriers to making sure secure doors are ADA compliant and report to Congress on its efforts to make secure facilities accessible for all with clearance to access them.
- Providing Realistic Training for Fighter Forces: A Duckworth-authored provision to direct the Air Force to build and present a strategy on the composition and funding for a realistic and cost-effective adversary air program.
Lead in the Indo-Pacific Region by:
- Enhancing Taiwan's Self-Defense Capabilities: A modified version of Duckworth’s bipartisan Strengthen Taiwan’s Security Act, which requires the Secretary of Defense to create a proactive plan—building on lessons learned from the crisis in Ukraine—to deliver lethal aid to Taiwan in the event of a contingency, as well as assessing other capabilities critical to Taiwan's self-defense.
- “Taiwan is an important strategic partner for the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region, and, as China continues its destabilizing policies, I am strongly committed to helping Taiwan develop its military defenses,” said Duckworth when introducing this standalone legislation. “That’s one of the reasons I introduced a bipartisan bill that would strengthen our support for Taiwan and provide it with the tools it needs to protect itself from any unwarranted attack.”
- Building Stronger Ties with India: A Duckworth-authored provision establishing a strategic partnership for research and development on emerging defense technologies between the DoD and the Republic of India's Ministry of Defence.
- Incorporating Climate Change into International Security Training: A Duckworth-authored provision to create a Defense Environmental International Cooperation Program to implement joint training with international partners that will reduce national security risks associated with climate change and provide opportunities to strengthen ties with key partners, as climate change is a top priority issue for many Indo-Pacific nations.
- Bolstering Security Initiatives in the Indo-Pacific: A Duckworth-authored provision reinforcing the Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative as a valuable tool to help our foreign partners detect and respond to challenges, including through asymmetric means.
Build the Logistics Enterprise for a Combat-Credible Deterrent by:
- Increasing Access to Repair Parts for DoD Aircraft: A modified version of Duckworth’s Improved Military Aviation Readiness Act to authorize the DoD to include Federal Aviation Administration-certified overhauled parts as part of its supply chain, improving both aircraft readiness by increasing access to repair parts—and value to the taxpayer—by purchasing overhauled, used parts instead of new ones. Given ongoing supply chain delays and the increasing cost of new parts, utilizing Used Serviceable Materials in the DoD maintenance operations can contribute to decreased costs and increased readiness.
- Improving Agility in National Defense Stockpile Acquisitions: A Duckworth-authored provision to amend the National Stockpile Act to provide the National Defense Stockpile Manager with new acquisition authority. The new authority will enable greater flexibility and speed in acquiring new material without sacrificing appropriate Congressional oversight.
- Ensuring Realistic Engine Maintenance Training Across the Air Force: A Duckworth-authored provision that acknowledges the importance of realistic training for maintenance professionals on the C-130J fleet that virtual reality systems can provide. It also directs the Air Force to provide a briefing that outlines its plan to achieve parity on virtual reality engine maintenance training across all C-130J units.
- Consolidating Defense Transportation Management Systems: A Duckworth-authored provision that acknowledges the benefits of TRANSCOM’s efforts to consolidate multiple transportation management systems and authorizes DoD to present their strategy and implementation timeline for a single joint transportation management system.
- Modernizing the Defense Supply Chain for Combat Environments: A Duckworth-authored provision to direct DoD to continue its work to modernize its supply chain and to prioritize digital solutions that use durable devices and technologies to operate in austere combat environments.
Tackle Climate Change and Defend the Environment by:
- Investing in a Proven Program that Promotes DoD Use of Sustainable Materials: Provision from Duckworth’s Depend on Domestic (DOD) Clean Energy Act to provide an additional $5 million investment in a program that evaluates existing commercially available sustainable products against military requirements to increase DoD and other federal agencies’ use of sustainable products. This will allow the program to evaluate additional products and increase awareness about their military usability, decreasing the environmental impact of military operations and forces globally.
- “We know that climate change is real and it’s threatening our military readiness, the safety of our men and women in uniform and our national security,” said Duckworth when introducing this standalone legislation. “While the military has started working to address this, we need to provide them with the resources to further act to curb the impacts of climate change before it’s too late, like pivoting further away from fossil fuels and investing instead in clean energy. That’s why I introduced the Depend on Domestic (DOD) Clean Energy Act to support DoD’s energy resilience efforts by giving it the tools it needs to diversify its energy sources and reduce its fuel needs.”
- Encouraging DoD to Invest in Energy Resiliency: A Duckworth-authored provision based on provisions from her Depend on Domestic (DOD) Clean Energy Act that reinforces DoD’s authorities to invest in clean energy infrastructure and energy resiliency. It would encourage DoD to take advantage of flexibility in Energy Resilience Conservation Investment Program (ERCIP) authorities.
- Establishing a Pilot for Sustainable Aviation Fuel: A modified version of Duckworth’s Reduce Our Military’s Reliance on Foreign Fuel Act that would create a DoD pilot program on the use of sustainable aviation fuels. The pilot program would be tasked with identifying logistics challenges, promoting education and developing crucial relationships with commercial providers. This text also directs DoD to develop a plan on how to implement the use of blended sustainable aviation fuel to reduce emissions and meet Department-wide targets.
- Enhancing DoD Remediation of Harmful Chemicals: A Duckworth-authored provision that acknowledges the need for a Department-wide approach to detecting and cleanup of harmful chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and encouraging DoD to evaluate and report on available applications that can support and act as an enterprise management tool for all entities supporting PFAS remediation.
Restore American Competitiveness by:
- Leading in Additive Manufacturing: A modified version of Duckworth’s bipartisan Bioindustrial and Additive Manufacturing for America Act to authorize DoD to develop and implement a research and development strategy for additive manufacturing for defense purposes, which could have critical implications for contested logistics. This would revolutionize the DoD’s ability to employ new defense technologies, spearhead research and development for both additive manufacturing and bioindustrial manufacturing for defense purposes and increase American competitiveness around the world.
- “Our troops deserve access to the best technology to help them continue to do their jobs, and advanced manufacturing—such as 3D printing and bioindustrial manufacturing—could provide significant advantages for them,” said Duckworth when introducing this standalone legislation. “That’s one of the reasons I introduced bipartisan legislation to help provide our nation with a better implementation strategy for advanced manufacturing for defense purposes while also increasing American manufacturing and defense competitiveness and efficacy around the world.”
- Building a Strategy to Lead in Biotechnology: A Duckworth-authored provision authorizing DoD to establish a Department-wide strategy on biodefense efforts. This concept is aligned with the Biden administration’s biotechnology research and development priorities.
- Enhancing the Department of Defense’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program: A Duckworth-authored provision to invest in DoD’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program, which would provide DoD with advanced simulation and computing services that will reduce the cost of designing, prototyping and testing novel weapon systems.
- Modernizing Fighter Aviation Technology: Duckworth-supported funding for ongoing software modernization and technology refresh programs for the Navy and Marine Corps' F-35 programs. This funding will allow for updates to 24 aircraft, ensuring warfighters are able to maintain the most advanced platforms needed to meet the evolving threats.
- Accelerating the Fielding of the Most Advanced Abrams Tank: Duckworth-supported provision that would provide an additional investment in the fielding of the M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tanks to allow the Army to meet its fielding plan for the latest tank technology.
Duckworth also offered several provisions representing some of her top priorities that have not yet been included in this year’s NDAA. These provisions would:
- Enhance Availability of Lower-Emission Fuels at On-Base Pumps: Provisions of the Thune-Duckworth bipartisan bill, the Armed Forces Fuel Choice Act, to authorize the DoD to offer commercial sales of at least one fuel that contains not less than 13% ethanol at commissaries or exchange stores on military installations.
- “Not only do our servicemembers deserve access to more affordable fuel options, but reducing our nation’s reliance on foreign oil and depending more on homegrown biofuels can bolster our national security,” said Duckworth when introducing this standalone legislation. “By encouraging the sale of E15 at on-base military commissary and exchange stores, the Armed Forces Fuel Choice Act will underscore that energy security is an important part of our national security and help our military families save their hard-earned money at the pump.”
- Expand Opportunities for Disadvantaged Small Businesses: This amendment would expand the sole source contract threshold for the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 8a Business Development program. Specifically, it would increase the contract threshold for goods and services contracts to $10 million from $3 million, and for manufacturing contracts to $14 million from $7 million.
Duckworth, an Iraq War Veteran who served in the Reserved Forces for 23 years before retiring from military service in 2014 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, is a Purple Heart recipient and one of the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She served on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) during her four years serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she authored numerous provisions aimed at improving servicemember quality of life, reducing government waste and promoting job creation. Last year, Duckworth also authored several provisions to tackle military hunger, enhance Air Force capacity, strengthen military parental leave, increase monthly incentive pay for Guardsmen and women as well as Reservists with critical skills, improve access to military child care and more.
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