Dec 17 2019
Legislation to Reform Military Housing, Raise Troop Pay, & Boost Shipbuilding Heads to President’s Desk
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today celebrated Senate passage of the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Wicker was named to the conference committee that crafted the final agreement, which will now go to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“This legislation is a major victory for the brave men and women in uniform we count on to defend our nation. This proposal builds on recent years’ strong budgets to provide our Department of Defense with the resources it needs to confront new and growing challenges from countries like China, Russia, and Iran,” Wicker said.
“This legislation also makes important reforms to our military housing system, gives our troops the largest pay raise in a decade, and supports an aggressive shipbuilding plan that will help our Navy move toward its goal of 355 ships. I look forward to the president signing this legislation without delay,” Wicker continued.
The legislation authorizes a topline figure of $738 billion for national defense, consistent with the recent bipartisan budget agreement. Among other provisions, it will provide a 3.1 percent pay raise for all members of the armed forces and $24 billion for the U.S. Navy’s shipbuilding plan, establish a U.S. Space Force within the Air Force as the sixth military service, and fully fund nuclear weapons modernization.
Wicker and other conferees were successful in blocking several partisan proposals from the House-backed defense bill that would have stripped funding for the border wall with Mexico, allowed U.S. detainees at Guantanamo Bay to be moved to the U.S., and tied the president’s hands when it comes to countering Iranian aggression.
In Mississippi, the defense bill is expected to have a major impact, with provisions to reform military housing, support shipbuilding programs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and fund defense manufacturing and military construction.
Highlights of the final defense proposal for Mississippi include:
Military Housing Reform
- Requires the Secretary of Defense to designate a Chief Housing Officer, who will be a presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed official.
- Requires the Secretary of Defense to consider a private contractor’s history of providing substandard housing when deciding to renew a housing contract or enter into a new contract.
- Requires the Secretary of Defense to withhold any amount owed under an existing housing contract until material breaches are remedied and rescind the contract if a material breach is not remedied within 90 days.
- Requires the Secretary of Defense to withhold incentive fees for persistent failure to remedy a health or environmental hazard.
A Boost for Shipbuilding
- Authorizes an additional $277.9M for the LPD-31 Flight II Amphibious Transport Dock ship for a total of $525M.
- Authorizes $650M for LHA-9 early funding to leverage non-recurring engineering (NRE) investment in LHA 8.
- Authorizes $260M for the purchase of long lead time material for three FY21 DDG-51 Flight III destroyers.
- Authorizes $15M to reduce production time and cost of Columbia class submarine propulsor components that are manufactured in Gulfport.
- Authorizes $15M to produce mission-ready advanced materials components in Gulfport for naval hovercraft.
Defense Procurement and Military Construction
- Authorizes the president’s budget request of $473M for the procurement of MQ-4C Triton and $47.25M for RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft, which are manufactured in Moss Point.
- Authorizes $16.8M for a fuel facilities replacement project at Columbus Air Force Base, which is consistent with the president’s budget request.
- Includes a Wicker provision to establish a minimum national requirement of 3,700 JROTC/NDCC units, which is an increase of 188 from the current 3,512 units.
- Approves the Maritime Administration Authorization Act, which authorizes appropriations for MARAD programs and related activities, including two Wicker proposals to improve ports and combat illegal fishing.