Wicker: Defense Bill Clears Final Hurdle

Legislation Sets National Security Priorities, Provides Armed Services Blueprint

December 12, 2014

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after the Senate passed the “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA) by a vote of 89-11:

“I am pleased that Congress is finally sending a defense authorization bill to the President’s desk. Passage of this legislation marks the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work to ensure our troops and military leaders have the tools they need to carry out their missions.

“This bill contains several provisions that will greatly benefit Mississippi. New funding will ensure the construction of a 12th LPD-17 amphibious ship in Pascagoula. Our National Guard units will also be protected from ill-advised personnel cuts and prevents the reallocation of Apache helicopters. We have also prevented the transfer of our C-130Js from Keesler Air Force Base unless the Air Force can substantiate its claim that the transfer would save taxpayer dollars – a claim that the facts do not support.

“The importance of passing this legislation should not be understated. Our nation is fighting two wars – one in Afghanistan and the other against ISIS. The men and women of our armed forces need this blueprint to do the job we have asked them to do, as well as plan for the future security of the United States.”

The legislation authorizes $560 billion in funding for America’s national defense.

Key provisions secured by Wicker in NDAA include:

  • Authorizes the construction of a 12th LPD-17 amphibious warship;
  • Prohibition of the transfer of C-130Js at Keesler Air Force Base until 60 days after financial reports are submitted to Congress;
  • Protecting Mississippi’s 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team by delaying for one year an Obama Administration proposal to reduce Army personnel while an independent commission assesses the Army’s needs;
  • Authorization of $416 million for the construction of 55 new light-utility helicopters;
  • Prohibition of the relocation of National Guard Apaches, including those in Tupelo, to the Army during FY2015;
  • Requiring annual mental health assessments for all servicemembers to help prevent military suicides;
  • Elimination of the “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) monopoly as the sole green building standard for DOD residential construction; and
  • Requiring the Department of Defense to issue new comprehensive guidelines on religious freedom.