Wicker Celebrates Mississippi Wins in Defense Bill

Armed Services Leader Delivers Key Funding for Mississippi National Defense Projects

June 23, 2023

WASHINGTON – Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today praised committee passage of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (FY 24 NDAA). The legislation, which Wicker led as the highest ranking Republican on the committee, defines defense investments and priorities for the years ahead. The bill included a range of projects supporting Mississippi’s role in the national defense enterprise.

“Our nation faces the most dangerous moment since World War II, and my top priority is to deliver our servicemembers the tools and capabilities they need to keep us safe. I am privileged to be the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I can attest that this legislation will strengthen our national defense and help us defeat our adversaries by keeping the Pentagon focused on deterrence rather than a toxic and divisive social agenda. As an Air Force veteran myself, I will continue fighting to protect our armed forces’ culture of personal achievement that helps make military service such a badge of honor,” Wicker said.

“The legislation that we reported to the full Senate supports Mississippi's contributions to our national defense by investing in the military installations, shipyards, airfields, manufacturing, and other institutions that are so very important.”

Among other provisions, the Senate’s defense proposal contains several Wicker priorities, including language that would:

  • Provide significant resources to ensure the United States military can prevail against adversaries in multiple theaters, including China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
  • Take care of our troops and help the DOD stay competitive with the private sector by providing for a 5.2 percent pay raise for service members.
  • Include Wicker’s Merit Act, which would help preserve the performance-based warfighting ethos of the military and stop the toxic, so-called ‘equity’ agenda at the Department of Defense at its source.
  • Mandates a full accounting of the cost and content of previously opaque and unaccountable DEI programming across the Department and ensures senior defense officials are not required to take time and effort promoting these toxic policies.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to reutilize, transfer, or donate any border wall construction materials that the Department is currently paying to store at various sites across the Southwest.
  • Support and expand JROTC programming by requiring the operation of 3,400-4,000 units nationwide, reforming oversight authorities, and revising instructor pay scales.
  • Prioritize stability for the defense workforce by authorizing block buys and multiyear contracting authority to improve industrial base stability for a range of critical programs, including munitions.
  • Direct a review of the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) procedures following a significant failure in tracking and destroying the Chinese spy balloon that traversed the continental United States.
  • Require a Department of Defense strategy to counter fentanyl trafficking after another record year in drug trafficking at the southern border.

The legislation also included many provisions beneficial to Mississippi. It would:

  • Authorize more than $1.8 billion in funding to procure the San Antonio-class amphibious warship, LPD-33, which would be constructed at Huntington Ingalls Shipyards in Pascagoula.
  • Add funding for military construction projects across the country, including installations across Mississippi.
  • Procure another APL-67 class berthing barge, which would be constructed at Bollinger Shipyards in Pascagoula.
  • Boost Columbia-class submarine full-scale shaft procurement, which is supported by Seemann Composites in Gulfport.
  • Secure funding for the continued operation of the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS) at the Stennis Center in Hancock County. Operation of NAVSCIATTS was an unfunded requirement for the U.S. Southern Command.
  • Include a provision on National Security Space Launch that would boost commercial competition in the sector, which has a large presence in Mississippi.
  • Support the operation and research at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg.
  • Boost research in cutting-edge research and development operations that will benefit a wide swath of universities and private sector institutions across the state.
  • Mandate a Pentagon report evaluating the long-term plan for Tactical Wheeled Vehicles, which include Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles built by Navistar Defense in West Point.
  • Grow investments in research, development, and procurement of advanced unmanned platforms and artificial intelligence systems that modernize warfighting capabilities and support Mississippi businesses from Starkville to Gulfport.
  • Invest in a cyber workforce program, which will support Mississippi universities, students, and young professionals.
  • Add funding for aluminum-lithium alloy solid rocket motors, which are critical to munitions production and boost Mississippi manufacturing.

To see the full Armed Services Committee summary and press release, click here.