Washington, DC – With the support of Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17), the House Armed Services Committee early this morning overwhelmingly approved H.R. 4310, the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The final package reported out by the Committee added several bipartisan provisions authored by Schilling with the support of a number of committee colleagues, including provisions to strengthen the Rock Island Arsenal (RIA), streamline small business contracting, improve health care for military families and help bring MIA warriors home.
The NDAA is annual comprehensive legislation that specifies the budget authority of the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and additional national security programs under the Department of Energy (DOE). The Act supports common defense and provides for the needs of our troops, ensuring that they have access to the best possible tools, equipment, and training necessary to complete their mission. The NDAA is now cleared for consideration by the full House of Representatives next week.
“I’m honored for the opportunity to serve on the Armed Services Committee and the chance to advance the interests of the Rock Island Arsenal, our nation’s warfighters, and their families,” Schilling said. “This year’s defense bill includes several provisions I’m pleased to have worked on with a number of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and I want to sincerely thank them and members of the Committee for their support in moving these initiatives forward. Providing for our common defense and the well-being of American warfighters and their families should not be a Republican or a Democrat issue, but a red, white, and blue issue.”
Schilling worked to ensure a number of provisions were included in this year’s NDAA, the 51st annual defense authorization bill. Schilling’s provisions include:
- Language authored with Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02), also a member of HASC, to ensure DOD recognizes the critical manufacturing work done at facilities like the RIA in our overarching national security strategy, and reviews how to maintain those skills and therefore the people who do the work. Schilling and Loebsack are building on their historic, bipartisan work to strengthen the arsenal in last year’s NDAA.
- Language authored with Congressman Steve Stivers (OH-15) to better shape the policies and practices of TRICARE to efficiently and effectively account for the specific health care needs of children. TRICARE is the military health care system covering 9.6 million, including military retirees, the children and families of active duty soldiers, and National Guard and Reservists. As the program’s reimbursement structure is based on Medicare, TRICARE often adopts policies and practices from Medicare that do not account for pediatric health care delivery and settings. This Schilling and Stivers language will convene a working group to review and make recommendations for improving TRICARE policies and practices to account for children’s needs, and work jointly with specialty providers of children’s health care.
- Language authored with Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) to encourage cooperation between the DOD and universities to uncover the remains of American troops who died in action overseas. This bipartisan provision will help provide closure for families with lost loved ones, and will honor those who gave so much for our country. Universities such as the University of Illinois are already working to reduce the backlog of cases that have been reported but not investigated or for which remains have been located but not recovered, but there is bureaucratic red tape that complicates coordinating efforts with the DOD. This provision will help DOD be more cost effective and increase the speed at which we can bring our warfighters home from more friendly countries, allowing the DOD to focus on its recovery efforts in more dangerous areas of the world.
- Language authored with Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), who serves with Schilling on the Small Business Committee, to reform small business contracting and make it easier for small contractors wishing to do business with the federal government. Small businesses have proven that they can perform a service or produce goods for the government at a lower cost and often at a faster pace than their larger counterparts, but many challenges remain for businesspeople seeking to break through the bureaucracy. This bipartisan provision allows the Small Business Administration to oversee civilian mentor-protégé programs (programs intended to partner small businesses with established mentors to improve the small business’ ability to win contracts and subcontracts), facilitating inter-agency agreements, guaranteeing that programs benefit small businesses, and encouraging equal treatment among all small businesses, including those owned by women and minorities.
The NDAA authorizes $544 billion for national defense and $88.5 billion for Overseas Contingencies Operations. This is nearly $4 billion more than the President’s budget request, but less than last year’s request. It is, however, consistent with the budget resolution the House passed last month.
The legislation includes a number of broader provisions as well, including:
- Provisions providing for the warfighter and military families: The NDAA seeks to provide our warfighters and their families with the care and support they need, deserve, and have earned. It ensures that our military is robust, flexible, and capable. The NDAA rejects Administration proposals to increase some TRICARE fees and establish new TRICARE fees; authorizes a 1.7 percent pay increase; and extends bonuses and special pay for our servicemen and women. It also reflects a bipartisan effort actively supported by Schilling to provide new regulations and procedures to combat and prosecute sexual assault within the military.
- Provisions to maintain and rebuild our military: The NDAA does not authorize additional rounds of Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) in either FY2013 or FY2015, as had been called for by the Department of Defense. Schilling strongly opposed efforts to authorize a BRAC. The bill includes and restores vital systems, platforms, and authorities to maintain America’s combat power after a decade of war.
- Provisions pertaining to detainees: The FY2012 NDAA reaffirmed U.S. authority to pursue terrorists who are part of or substantially support al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces. The FY2013 NDAA, though the incorporation of the Right to Habeas Corpus Act, makes clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that every American will have his day in court. It also prohibits the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States.
More information on the FY2013 can be found here on the HASC website. Having passed HASC early this morning, the NDAA is now cleared for consideration by the full House of Representatives next week.