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Sen. Mark Warner Applauds Inclusion of Key Priorities in Draft of Annual Defense Bill

The bill "will help bolster our military readiness, support critical Virginia jobs, tackle the needs of military families, and reinforce our commitment to Ukraine in its fight against authoritarianism. "

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From Sen. Mark Warner’s office:

WARNER APPLAUDS INCLUSION OF KEY PRIORITIES IN DRAFT OF ANNUAL DEFENSE BILL 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), today applauded the inclusion of a number of Virginia priorities in the draft of the nation’s annual defense bill that was announced late last night after weeks of talks between House and Senate negotiators. A full summary of the draft FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is available here.

“As the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I’m glad to see an agreement on draft legislation that will help bolster our military readiness, support critical Virginia jobs, tackle the needs of military families, and reinforce our commitment to Ukraine in its fight against authoritarianism. I look forward to considering this legislation in the Senate,” said Sen. Warner.

The proposal supports $857.9 billion in funding for our nation’s defense, and includes a number of Warner-championed provisions that would:

  • Help provide better housing support for servicemembers and their families. These provisions direct DoD to reevaluate methodologies for calculating the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to better reflect servicemembers’ housing needs, and look at barriers to home ownership that are unique to members of the military. These provisions are based on two Warner-sponsored bills, the BAH Calculation Improvement Act and the Increasing Home Ownership for Servicemembers Act.
  • Authorize more than $285 million in funding for 14 military construction projects in Virginia, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Dahlgren, Newport News, Ft. Belvoir, Langley, and at the Pentagon.
  • Accelerate the construction of two new Child Development Centers in Hampton Roads to help provide critical child care for infants and children on installations. This provision mirrors a Congressionally Directed Spending request made by Sen. Warner to help address the larger challenges military families face with the supply of available child care.
  • Overhaul how the military understands and studies food insecurity among members of in the military. The provision – based on an amendment led in the Senate by Sen. Warner – will improve how the military collects data and analyzes rates of food insecurity among servicemembers and their families, to better measure and more effectively address the concerning issue of food insecurity in the military.
  • Support the critical work of the U.S. Intelligence Community by including the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (IAA). The IAA allocates funding, provides legal authorities, and enhances congressional oversight of the Intelligence Community.
  • Bring federal data collection into the 21st century and boost financial transparency by modernizing data collection by the federal financial regulators. This provision is based on Sen. Warner’s Financial Data Transparency Act, which requires these regulators to develop common data formatting standards that promote the usability and organization of financial data they already collect from regulated institutions – rules that will make data easier for the public to use and for agencies to process.

The bill also includes a number of other crucial measures supported by Sen. Warner.

To support investments in our nation’s defense and diplomatic capabilities, this bill would:

  • Support Navy shipbuilding with $32.6 billion in funding for the procurement of 11 battle force ships, including full funding for the Columbia-class submarine program and for the procurement of two Virginia-class submarines. The bill also would reverse plans for the early retirement of 12 vessels in the coming year.
  • Support the critical work of the U.S. State Department by advancing funding and a range of provisions vital to supporting our nation’s diplomatic efforts the men and women who work tirelessly to advance those around the world.
  • Support the work of the U.S. Coast Guard with more than $28 billion in funding.
  • Authorize nearly $132 million for defense research activities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions. Last year, Sen. Warner successfully led an effort in the NDAA to better position HBCUs and MSIs to compete for federal research dollars.

For members of the military and their families, this bill would:

  • Authorize a 4.6 percent pay raise to servicemembers and Department of Defense (DoD) civilians.
  • Take steps to address the suicide and mental health crisis in the military by directing DoD to undertake more detailed research into mental health and rates of suicide. This provision seeks to provide a better understanding of the different ramifications across military career fields. It also directs an Inspector General review of efforts by the Navy to prevent and respond to suicides in light of deaths in the Hampton Roads region and elsewhere.
  • Make historic reforms to the military justice system’s handling of certain offenses, including sexual assaults. Following years of tireless effort by advocates, this bill would remove commanders from all prosecutorial and judicial functions for a range of covered offenses. Sen. Warner is a proud sponsor of Sen. Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act of 2021, which, combined with bipartisan efforts across both Chambers this year, formed the foundation for these reforms.
  • Tackle issues with military housing by:
  • Extending DoD’s authority to raise the Basic Allowance for Housing for military families living in higher-cost areas of the country.
  • Improving oversight over military housing issues and codifying the position of Chief Housing Officer. Sen. Warner has pushed to have a single, designated lead for housing at DoD to improve accountability to residents as well as Congress, and to promote and increase coordination.
  • Requiring the Secretary of Defense to implement health-related recommendations made by the Department’s Inspector General related to privatized military housing.
  • Tackle food insecurity by:
  • Expanding eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance to help ensure that all men and women in uniform and their families have the basic necessities they need. The Basic Needs Allowance was created through the Warner-sponsored Military Hunger Prevention Act, and is aimed at combating disturbing rates of food insecurity in the military.
  • Creating a pilot program to better address rates of food insecurity among veterans. This provision would offer grant funding to organizations that are actively working to address this challenge.
  • Adding $210 million in authorized funding for the military’s commissary system to help support food access for servicemembers and their families.
  • Increase access to timely child care for military families who undergo a permanent change of station by creating a pilot program to provide child care-related reimbursement to these families.

For the ongoing effort to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s authoritarianism, this bill would:

  • Extend the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) – one of the main tools used by the U.S. in support of Ukraine’s defensive needs – and authorize $800 million for this program in the coming fiscal year.
  • Authorize more than $6 billion to fully fund the European Deterrence Initiative.
  • Hold Russia accountable for its atrocities by stating that the United States will collect, analyze, and preserve evidence related to Russian war crimes, and will assist in pursuing appropriate accountability for those responsible.
  • Increase transparency and accountability by taking steps to ensure that Inspectors General are able to adequately conduct oversight of U.S. funding to ensure it is most effectively being applied in support of Ukraine’s efforts.
  • Express the full commitment of the United States to NATO and to continuing Ukrainian assistance during Russia’s violent and illegal invasion.
  • Authorize more than $2.7 billion for munitions production capacity, and direct an assessment of our defense industrial base’s capacity long-term.

To bolster our ability to compete in the 21st century, this bill would:

  • Continue to strengthen U.S.-India relations by directing the Departments of Defense and State to pursue greater engagement and expanded cooperation with India related to emerging technology, joint R&D, defense and cyber capabilities, and other opportunities for collaboration – including for reducing India’s reliance on Russian-built defense equipment. These provisions support an effort by Sen. Warner, co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, to highlight the importance of our defense partnership with India, and to support accelerated efforts by India to diversify defense systems.
  • Better invest in emerging technologies by boosting funding for basic and applied research and development of advanced tech by $2.85 billion.
  • Support the commercialization of critical capabilities by authorizing $300 million in funding for new bio-manufacturing facilities.
  • Authorize an increase of $120 million for 5G technology R&D and transition support.
  • Authorize an increase of $75 million for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as it looks to implement recommendations put forward by the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI). It would also authorize an increase of $50 million for AI at U.S. Cyber Command, and require more strategic, longer-term planning related to DoD’s efforts to rapidly adopt AI to relevant cyber missions.
  • Support DARPA’s quantum computing activities with an increase of $20 million.
  • Increase productivity and cooperation in microelectronics by establishing a working group of government, private sector, and academia experts to better enable coordination and consultation related to R&D and manufacturing.
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