House Passes NDAA With Strong Support from the Florida Delegation

This week, the U.S. House passed the $768 million National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with every member of the Florida delegation with the exception of U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., backing it.

The House passed the measure on a 363-70 vote with 194 Republicans and 169 Democrats supporting it. Most of the opposition–51 members–came from the Democratic ranks and 19 Republicans, including Posey, joined them. The NDAA is $15 billion higher than what President Joe Biden requested.

The proposal would increase pay for active duty personnel and civilians working for the U.S. Defense Department by 2.7 percent. The NDAA also sends $300 million to the Ukrainian Security Assistance Initiative and would create a commission to study the missteps made during the two-decade military operation in Afghanistan.

“Keeping Pinellas families safe has always been my top priority in Congress. That’s why I was proud to support the National Defense Authorization Act today. This bill includes a well-deserved pay raise for our troops, requires a comprehensive investigation of the War in Afghanistan, and counters Russian aggression and China’s growing influence,” said U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla.

“The legislation also combats sexual assault in the military, makes improvements to family housing and healthcare, provides oversight of suicide prevention efforts, and affords greater access to mental health resources for our service members,” Crist added. “Finally, the bill invests in critical infrastructure so our military facilities can withstand rising seas and extreme weather—things Floridians are all too familiar with. In short, this legislation gives our troops and their families the support they need— and deserve—as they fight for our nation and heal wounds both seen and unseen.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., also backed the NDAA.

“Our men and women in uniform risk their lives daily to protect our families, our nation and our interests across the globe. We owe them the support necessary to meet ever-changing national security threats, and that’s why I am pleased that we have a path forward to overcome Senate Republican obstruction of the passage of the NDAA. Republican inaction is costly to our ever-evolving national security missions and leaves the military unable to plan operations effectively and confidently. When Republicans block a pay raise for our troops and fuel economic turmoil, it impacts everyone, businesses large and small and our incredible military families. Doing so as we enter the holiday season simply to score political points is cynical and wrong,” Castor said.
“This bipartisan defense bill will bolster our national security and invest in new, innovative technologies to maintain America’s competitive edge over our adversaries including Russia and China. The Senate must do everything in its power to send this bill to President Biden’s desk without delay.

“Investments including a 2.7 percent pay raise for our troops and an air purification assessment for base housing and other on-base facilities will better the lives of service members and their families. This follows up on my work to ensure that housing is safe and free from mold and shoddy construction – Congress is committed to continuing to ensure that housing is improved for MacDill families,” she continued.

“This legislation will also help us make progress on some of our climate goals, as we do more to help military installations reach net-zero on energy, water, and waste by 2035. It also takes steps to boost climate resilience across our military installations, to advance military preparedness to the growing threat of wildfire, and to expand long-duration energy storage,” Castor added. “Funding that I championed for Special Operations Forces also is contained in the bill, including an increase in funding to mitigate undiagnosed, untreated traumatic brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The NDAA will also invest in the Joint MISO WebOps Center (JMWC), which I visited earlier this year at MacDill AFB, to help modernize their work in the global information space.

“Important for all members of our military, this package follows up on the establishment of new diversity requirements for the Department of Defense, including the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Council, and direction to change the names of military bases named after Confederate soldiers last Congress, this year’s NDAA takes further action to meet this moment and ensure our military is reflective of our nation. This includes the establishment of a basic needs allowance for low-income service members to ensure their families are taken care of while they serve our nation. Importantly, we also increase the allowable parental leave for primary and secondary caregivers, including foster parents, and an expansion of the in-home child care pilot program and financial assistance for in-home child care. These are important steps to serving our servicemen and women as well as they serve us. I urge the Senate to swiftly pass this year’s NDAA in order to better serve our heroes at MacDill and around the globe,” Castor concluded.

On the other side of the aisle, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., the first Green Beret to serve in Congress, praised the NDAA, noting it “includes several of his priorities, including addressing the growing military and economic threat of China as well as safeguarding America from growing threats around the world and providing for our veterans and Gold Star families.”

“As a Green Beret and combat veteran, I know firsthand how important a well-equipped, well-prepared military force to protect our great country,” said Waltz. “Right now, our country faces numerous threats from adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party, Russia, and Iran, who continue to undermine and threaten democracies, as well as emboldened terrorist organizations like al Qaeda and ISIS-K, which will now find a safe haven in Afghanistan. This year’s defense bill will help us ensure America can face these challenges and any others while protecting our strategic interests at home and abroad – all thanks to the incredible bravery and incredible skill of the men and women of our armed services. Additionally, this bill will improve the quality of live for our warfighters and their families.

“Each year, this bill provides our military with necessary resources to face the challenges ahead,” added Waltz. “I am proud to support this year’s defense bill and I hope it is worthy of the men and women in uniform that depend on it to keep America safe.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., praised the measure for being higher than what Biden asked for.

“By rejecting President Biden’s cuts to readiness and responsibly investing in our warfighters, training, maintenance, and critical capabilities this bill greatly improves our national defense. Further, it recognizes the threats posed by China and Iran and holds the administration accountable for their disastrous and embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Webster said.

“I applaud Republican negotiators for removing poison pills from this legislation, including sections that could result in women being drafted and service members being unjustly deprived of their Second Amendment rights. Our negotiators also removed provisions that would create an Office of Extremism at the Department of Defense and establish policies or require troops to take training courses about so-called extremism,” Webster added. “The bill also prohibits anything other than an Honorable Discharge for service members who decline a COVID-19 vaccination and requires uniform procedures for vaccine exemptions, including recognizing natural immunity. This policy will retroactively apply to the date of the DoD COVID-19 vaccine order and be in place for at least two years.”

Posey explained to Florida Daily why he could not vote for the NDAA.

“While there are good things in this bill, we don’t fully know all that was in this 2000 plus page bill that members had just a few hours to read and review. Waiving House transparency rules on a bill of this importance is concerning,” Posey said.
The NDAA now heads to the U.S. Senate.

Kevin Derby
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