Annual Defense Bill Heading to President’s Desk

Murkowski Supports Troop Pay Raise, Expanding Arctic Capabilities, and Military Readiness

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted in favor of the final version of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), legislation which supports our troops through the biggest pay raise in nearly ten years and provides our military with the resources needed to face emerging threats and protect Americans at home and abroad. The bill passed by a 87-10 vote, sending it to the President for his signature.

“Our national security must always remain a top priority. And with tensions rising around the globe, it’s more important than ever that we ensure our military men and women have the training, resources, and tools they need to defend our nation,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m encouraged that this bill strongly supports the crucial work of the Missile Defense Agency which protects the entire nation from missile threats. We can never thank our military enough for the work they do to ensure the defense of our nation, but the pay raise included for our service members demonstrates our respect and esteem for their sacrifices. I want to acknowledge the good work of Senator Sullivan in helping to craft a bill that pushes the Defense Department toward a more robust Arctic strategy. The legislation bolsters our military’s cold weather capabilities, and sends a firm signal that Congress expects to see the construction of six new polar icebreakers. Senator Sullivan is to be commended for his work, both on the Armed Services Committee and as a conferee, and his tireless efforts to ensure Alaska remains at the forefront of our nation’s defense decisions.”

The bill supports $716 billion in Fiscal Year 2019 for national defense, authorizing a base budget of $639 billion for the Department of Defense (DoD) and national security programs within the Department of Energy and $69 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.

Bill Highlights:

  • Authorizes the appropriation of $242.8 million to fund eight military construction projects in Alaska. Senator Murkowski is shepherding these projects through the Fiscal Year 2019 military construction appropriations bill.
  • Authorizes a 2.6 percent pay raise for members of the Armed Forces, the largest pay raise for service members in nearly a decade.
  • Authorizes $9.7 billion for the Missile Defense Agency in support of programs vital to developing advanced technology, protecting forces in South Korea, and countering emerging threats.
  • Authorizes $7.6 billion for 77 F-35s, of which 48 are F-35A, the Air Force version of the F-35, coming to Eielson AFB in 2020.
  • Maintains a level of funding to allow a high operational readiness level of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula. 
  • Authorizes programs to more carefully manage opioid prescriptions in the military medical system.
  • Authorizes $40 million in supplemental impact aid and $10 million in impact aid for disabled military children.

Alaska Interest Provisions:

  • Icebreakers: Authorizes the Coast Guard to contract for the procurement of up to five polar icebreakers, both heavy and medium class, and insists the goal of procuring six icebreakers be accomplished as expeditiously as possible.
  • Spaceports: Encourages the DoD and Armed Services use of private spaceports already developed or under development in Alaska, as well as Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia.
  • Cold Weather Capabilities: Requires the DoD to assess current cold weather capabilities and readiness of the Armed Forces serving in Arctic areas and explore opportunities to expand cold weather training for all services and resources necessary.
  • Arctic Strategy: Requires a report from the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force on their Arctic strategies, including an assessment of threats and security challenges posed by adversaries in the region and cooperation between DoD and other relevant entities related to defense of the region.

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