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Defense bill advances to House floor, includes Central Coast priorities 

house armed forces bill

Rep. Carbajal calls the bill ‘a major win for our service members, our communities, and our country’

–This week, the House Armed Services Committee completed its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 Fiscal Year. The bill advanced out of committee on a bipartisan basis, by a vote of 57-2. The sweeping measure includes several of Rep. Carbajal’s proposals to address Central Coast priorities and meet national security needs. The full committee markup can be viewed here.

“Each year, members of the House Armed Services Committee come together to pass a bipartisan bill to enhance our national security and keep Americans safe. I believe this bill reflects the needs and values of Central Coast families and I am proud that several measures I fought for have been included in the bill,” said Rep. Carbajal. “This must-pass bill includes a pay raise for our service members, helps us act on the climate crisis, prevents extremists from serving in the military, and extends the lifesaving FireGuard program which utilizes Department of Defense resources to help us fight wildfires. This bill is a major win for our service members, our communities, and our country.”

Wildfires and climate change

  • FireGuard Extension: Carbajal introduced and passed a bipartisan amendment that authorizes the FireGuard program for five years. The FireGuard program utilizes Department of Defense resources to help local jurisdictions detect and monitor wildfires. Previously, the program had to be reauthorized on a yearly basis so this provision would provide long term certainty for emergency responders who rely on this program.
  • Wind energy: Carbajal led several bipartisan amendments that takes steps to make our military assets more compatible with burgeoning wind energy opportunities. Specifically, the amendments require the Department of Defense to make meaningful progress on making surveillance radar sites, military training routes, and airspace more compatible with wind energy technology.

 

Service members and military families

  • Basic Needs Allowance: Carbajal helped pass a measure that allows the Defense Secretary can provide a basic needs allowance to qualified service members, based on the Military Hunger Prevention Act (HR 2339) which Rep. Carbajal cosponsored.
  • Pay raise: The bill includes a well-deserved 2.7% pay raise for U.S. service members.
  • Address racism: Carbajal led a bipartisan amendment to prevent individuals who were convicted of a felony hate crime from receiving a waiver to enlist in the military. Just as it is appropriate for individuals who are convicted of certain sexual offenses to be prohibited from service, Congress should also prohibit service secretaries from issuing a waiver for individuals convicted of a felony hate crime to enlist.
  • Address pay disparity: Carbajal supported an amendment, which is backed by the Association of Federal Government Employees (AFGE), to align the locality pay maps for the General Schedule and the Federal Wage System to make sure federal employees working the same job in the same place receive the same pay. Currently, hourly and salaried federal workers in the same location can be treated as if they work in different places when calculating local pay rates, resulting in a substantial pay gap.
  • Help Purple Heart families become citizens: Carbajal cosponsored an amendment to include the Sergeant First Class Javier J. Gutierrez Purple Heart Survivor Naturalization Fee Relief Act in the bill. The amendment waives certain fees for immediate relatives of Purple Heart recipients who are pursuing naturalization.

 

Advancing Vandenberg’s space capabilities:

  • Carbajal supported a $5 million increase to Spacelift Range System, which would improve the infrastructure at ranges including the ones at Vandenberg Space Force Base.
  • Carbajal secured a provision that requires the Chief of Space Operations to put forward a plan to address long term challenges to long term physical infrastructure at U.S. Space Force launch ranges.
  • Carbajal cosponsored an amendment that would prevent SPACECOM headquarters construction in Alabama until the GAO and DODIG site selection reviews are complete.

 

Support for local military-university partnerships

  • Air and aerospace technology: Carbajal helped secure $10 million for air platform technologies and aerospace vehicle technology. These funds will advance research conducted at Cal Poly in partnership with the Air Force Research Lab.
  • Biotech innovation: Carbajal helped secure $4 million for biotechnology advancements in University Affiliated Research Centers (UARC). These funds would advance research at the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, an Army-sponsored UARC that is led by UC Santa Barbara.

 

Other national priorities included in FY22 NDAA

  • Takes steps to close Guantanamo Bay by removing an arbitrary prohibition on the transfer of detainees.
  • Funds necessary programs to address the threats posed by Russia and China.
  • Support for the Afghanistan SIV program.
  • Increases funding for the continued use of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. In fiscal years 2020 and 2021, 69 Central Coast companies received SBIR contracts.
  • Institutes reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Military Investigative Organizations to address the prevalence of sexual assault in military branches.

 

Additional details and a summary of all the provisions included in the FY22 NDAA can be found here.

Rep. Salud Carbajal represents California’s 24th congressional district, encompassing Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and part of Ventura County. He sits on the House Armed Services Committee, Agriculture Committee, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at info@pasoroblesdailynews.com.