Murkowski Proposing Alaska-Focused Additions to Defense Bill
As the U.S. Senate considers the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Senator Lisa Murkowski is filing amendments that would address Alaska’s military community and economic concerns, as well as pursue the nation’s Arctic agenda.
“Alaska’s military community is a valuable member of our family. Its reach and impact touches nearly every corner of the state and will be a major contributor to the nation’s Arctic future,” said Murkowski. “The NDAA provides a valuable opportunity to strengthen our military presence and make sure its operations are being conducted in the most responsible and effective way for everyone.”
Senator Murkowski has filed a number of NDAA amendments that advance Alaska’s concerns, including ones that:
- Require the Department of Defense to explain how its budget advances the Pentagon’s Arctic strategy and remedy decades-old defense infrastructure deficiencies in the Arctic.
- Consider whether the National Guard State Partnerships program – already successful with partner nations like Mongolia – should be expanded to Arctic nations to promote international cooperation in the region.
- Authorize the Defense Department to contribute to the maintenance and refurbishment of existing icebreakers and help fund the construction of new icebreakers.
Hunting and Fishing
- Ensure that the Pentagon fully consider the impacts of training exercises on subsistence and commercial fisheries, and require the military to engage with stakeholders and community members within six months of any planned exercise.
- Require that the military consult and coordinate with sportsmen and recreational users well in advance of closing military land ordinarily open to these uses to the public.
Care for Vets
- Prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from reducing its level of support for DOD/VA Joint Venture Hospitals, like the JBER Hospital, without providing six months advance notice to the military.
- Require that private medical providers who accept TRICARE be asked if they would like to opt into the Veterans Administration “Choice Card” program.
Promoting Accountability and Transparency
- Strengthen and streamline the way the National Guard investigates allegations of sexual assault and serious misconduct – to reinforce accountability and transparency.
- Permit Hmong-Americans who supported the American mission during the Vietnam War to be buried in national cemeteries, beside the solders they fought with.
- Authorize the Army to reacquire and demolish the Fort Greely School which is to be closed by the Delta/Greely School District.
Senator Murkowski has also co-sponsored amendments to delay the privatization of military commissaries until the effect on military families and retirees can be studied and to combat food insecurity among junior enlisted servicemembers by excluding the Basic Allowance for Housing from counting as a resource for food stamp eligibility.