Duckworth Provisions to Support Troops, Improve Military Readiness, Reduce Reliance on Foreign Oil Pass Senate as Part of NDAA
[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 Senate on a bipartisan vote of 83-11 today. The FY2023 NDAA 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 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 bolstering supply chains as well as transitioning to clean energy and strengthen partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region. The 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, I’m proud that the bipartisan bill we passed today 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 the President signing this important bill into law so 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, which will enable more military members to 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.”
- 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.”
- Identifying Barriers to Accessing 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 Congress to build an actionable plan for improving access to affordable healthcare for Reservists and their families.
- 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.
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 assess 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.”
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.
- 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.
- Bringing Critical Defense Capabilities to Airlift: Duckworth championed an investment of $5 million above the original budget request into an infrared threat suppression system on the C-17 that provides critical self-defense against advanced surface-to-air threats, improving survivability for important airlift aircraft flown by Air Mobility Command and others.
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 $3 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.”
- 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: Duckworth supported several provisions that will improve the Department’s efforts to detect and clean up harmful chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which is important to the health and safety of servicemembers and communities on and near military bases.
Restore American Competitiveness by:
- Enhancing the Department of Defense’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program: Duckworth pushed for an additional investment 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.
- Improving the National Guard’s Ability to Fight All-Domain Operations: Duckworth championed the inclusion of $350 million to equip two National Guard divisions with a company each of MQ-1 Gray Eagles to bring their equipment in line with active component divisions.
- Modernize Army Vehicles: Additional investment of $400 million above the original budget request in the Army's efforts to replace its aging M113 vehicle fleet with the new Armored Multi-Purpose Fighting Vehicle.
- Accelerating the Fielding of the Most Advanced Abrams Tank: Duckworth-supported 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.
The NDAA also includes the text of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2022, which features three Duckworth-authored provisions, that would strengthen our Coast Guard by:
- Establishing an Artificial Intelligence Strategy: Language directing the Commandant of the Coast Guard to establish a set of activities to coordinate the efforts of the Coast Guard to develop and mature artificial intelligence technologies and transition such technologies into operational use where appropriate.
- Reviewing Artificial Intelligence Applications and Establishment of Performance Metrics: Language directing the Commandant to identify the resources necessary to improve the use of artificial intelligence and digital technology in platforms, processes and operations. Also directs the Commandant to establish performance objectives and accompanying metrics for the incorporation of artificial intelligence into platforms, processes and operations.
- Collaborating on Cyber Data Management: Language directing the Commandant to work with the Commander of United States Cyber Command and the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to develop policies and operating procedures governing access to and the ingestion, structure, storage and analysis of information and data relevant to the Coast Guard Cyber Mission.
Duckworth, an Iraq War Veteran who served in the Reserve 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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