Final Bipartisan Bicameral Defense Bill Passes House with Important New Hampshire Priorities
WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, announced that the final bipartisan bicameral National Defense Authorization Act has passed the House with important New Hampshire priorities. After leading a bipartisan letter with seven other Members of Congress, the Conference Committee retained the higher Senate funding level for the national PFAS exposure health study. The bill supports our troops by providing a 2.6% pay increase. Each year, Congress provides servicemembers with a pay increase.
“Working to keep our country safe and to protect our men and women in uniform has been one of the greatest privileges of my life, and I’m proud that the Armed Services Committees has once again produced a bipartisan bill that supports our military, secures our nation, and includes several New Hampshire priorities I fought for,” said Shea-Porter. “The Defense bill is not perfect, but it supports our troops by raising their pay by 2.6 percent, strengthens our national defense, and makes important investments in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. This bill continues and increases funding for the critical PFAS health impact study that will help communities understand how these toxic chemicals in groundwater are impacting public health. In addition, it repeals a harmful policy that cut Shipyard workers’ pay and benefits and will allow the Defense Department to provide back pay to National Guard officers whose promotions are delayed due to bureaucratic issues at the Pentagon.”
The Conference Report provides our troops with a 2.6 percent pay increase. Each year, Congress, not the president provides our servicemembers with a pay increase.
PFAS Health Study
The bill continues authorizing funding for the nationwide PFAS health impact study, which Shea-Porter authored in the House. After Shea-Porter led a letter to the NDAA conferees asking them to retain the higher Senate funding levels, the Conference Committee agreed to fund the study at $10 million.
Repeal of Harmful Per Diem Policy for Shipyard Workers
The Conference Report retains the amendment Shea-Porter fought for to eliminate the unfair cuts to per diem benefits that Shipyard workers are eligible for when deployed. Since 2014, these cuts have forced many workers to pay out-of-pocket for meals and lodging, which significantly reduced their pay.
Provides Back Pay to Guard Officers with Delayed Promotions
When soldiers and airmen in the National Guard receive a promotion or appointment to a higher rank, it must be recognized by both by the state and the federal government. While thorough review is important, undue delays in the federal recognition process can have particularly negative consequences for Guard officers. The NDAA conference report will allow the Department of Defense (DoD), on a case-by-case basis, to adjust the effective date of federal promotion to the date of the Guard officer’s state-approved promotion, which will enable those Guard officers whose promotions have been delayed to receive back pay. Fixing these promotion delays has been a top priority for the National Guard Association of the United States.
Shea-Porter secured a provision that reverses language from the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act, which radically reduced the scope of DoD’s contractor inventory reporting standard, and returns DoD to the previous reporting standard of comprehensive inclusion of DoD contracts, so that costs are transparent and oversight is possible. The contractor inventory is the way that DoD tracks its contracts and contractors. Without a sufficiently inclusive reporting standard, DoD does not have a comprehensive view of its contracts, making it difficult to track and audit them accurately. The Defense Business Board has noted that DoD spends $141.7 billion or 24 percent of its topline on 777,000 contractors, which makes oversight essential. Without this amendment, all contracts below $3 million would continue to be excluded from the contractor inventory.