Murkowski Supports Bill to Bolster National Defense, Monitor Arctic Activity, and Support our Military
Includes Pay Raise for Troops, PFAS Bill Package, Addresses Military Suicides
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted in favor of S. 1790, the defense authorization bill which authorizes $738 billion in national defense funding for Fiscal Year 2020. The bill includes the largest pay raise for troops in over a decade, equips our military with necessary resources to defend America, modernizes military infrastructure and tools, and prioritizes taking care of our military and their families. The bill also includes legislative priorities crafted by Senator Murkowski, including to address suicide prevention in the military, to evaluate Russian and Chinese activity in the Arctic, and to help address the issue of contamination caused by per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The bill passed by a vote of 86-8 and now heads to the President to be signed into law.
“The Arctic is a rapidly evolving region but our vision remains focused on ensuring peace, opportunity, and collaboration, with America recognized and serving as a strong leader in the region. The greater understanding that we have of what’s happening in the region, including activities with military implications, the better prepared we can be to protect and defend our nation’s interests. I’m proud this bill supports that strategy,” said Senator Murkowski. “As we work to develop legislation that addresses the greatest needs of Alaska and our military, I thank Senator Sullivan for his leadership as member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and for the significant provisions he helped secure in this bill.”
(Note: Numbers are nationwide program funding levels.)
SENATOR MURKOWSKI’S PROVISIONS:
- Suicide Prevention: Includes an amendment of Senator Murkowski’s requiring the U.S. Comptroller General to submit a report describing current programs and activities in place for the prevention of suicide among members of the military, whether the programs are appropriately resourced, and opportunities to improve the programs.
- Russian and Chinese Activity in the Arctic: As Russia and China continue to pursue opportunities in the Arctic, the bill includes a provision of Senator Murkowski’s requiring the Secretary of Defense to report on the military activities of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China in the Arctic region, including the extent to which their activities impact the interests of the United States and our allies. [The bill also includes Congressman Young’s amendment which directs an independent study of Chinese foreign investment in Arctic countries, with a focus on the effects of this investment on United States national security and economic competition in the region.]
- END Network Abuse Act: To help enhance the capability of military criminal investigative organizations to prevent and combat child sexual exploitation, the bill includes a version of Senators Murkowski and Brian Schatz (D-HI) End Network Abuse Act. The bill encourages the Secretary of Defense to train military criminal investigators on technologies, tools, and techniques to enhance their investigation capabilities and when using evidence-based forensic interviewing of child victims.
- PFAS: Includes a bill package to address contamination caused by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by including funding for PFAS computer modeling and requirements on PFAS disposal. The legislation also includes an amendment from Senator Murkowski to require blood testing for PFAS during routine physical exams for military firefighters.
ALASKA INTEREST HIGHLIGHTS:
- Fifth-Generation F-35s: Requires a strategy for implementing 5th Generation information system.
- Native 8(a) Contractors: Senator Sullivan successfully included a provision which requires the Department of Defense to remove overly burdensome restrictions first enacted in late 2009, which applied only to Native 8(a) contractors. Specifically, this language reduces the administrative burden and lowers the disproportionately high level of approval authority for small-to-medium-sized sole-source contracts awarded to Native 8(a) contractors.
- Military Funeral Honors: Includes language from the Creig Sharp Funeral Honors for Veterans Act, introduced by Senator Sullivan and co-sponsored by Senator Murkowski, which requires military installations to have a plan to provide full individual military funeral honors for all veterans upon their request and resources permitting.
- Arctic Strategy: Continues Senator Sullivan’s work to implement the Department of Defense’s 2016 Arctic Strategy by requiring the Secretary of Defense to produce a report on how the plan will be implemented. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Sullivan played a key role in developing this strategy.
- Strategic Arctic Port Designation: Includes a provision of Congressman Young and Senator Sullivan’s which acknowledges that the Bering Strait is experiencing significant increases in international traffic from vessels transiting the Northern Sea Route and requires the Secretary of Defense to submit to the congressional defense committees a report evaluating potential sites for one or more strategic ports in the Arctic.
- Alaska Shipyards: Includes a provision of Senator Sullivan’s which requires a U.S. Navy report to determine the “capability and proficiency of shipyards” in Alaska, and other regions, to perform technical repair work outside of the vessel’s homeport.
- Military Construction: Authorizes $8.6 million to military construction projects at Eielson Air Force Base, including construction of the F–35 AME Storage Facility.
- Innovative Readiness Training: Increases funding for Innovative Readiness Training, which aims to produce mission-ready forces to provide key services for underserved communities throughout the U.S., such as the joint project led by the Air National Guard to help relocated residents of Newtok, Alaska.
- Cold-Weather Training: Requires the Secretary of Defense to conduct a report on the army’s plans to expand cold-weather training.
- JPARC Modernization: Secured by Senator Sullivan, requires the Secretary of the Air Force to submit a report detailing the upgrades that need to be made to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC), an Air Force training range that provides unparalleled opportunities for present and future Service, multinational, and interagency training.
- Fentanyl Sanctions Act: Adds sanctions on drug manufacturers from China and financial institutions that knowingly facilitate or take part in the trafficking of synthetic opioids and authorizes additional support to combat foreign opioid trafficking.
- Military-Civilian Integrated Health Delivery Systems: Requires the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study and develop a plan to help further develop military-civilian integrated health delivery systems, such as those on Elmendorf Air Force Base.
- Troop Pay Raise: Authorizes a 3.1 percent pay raise for members of the Armed Forces, the largest pay raise for service members in a decade.
- Ballistic Missile Defense System: Prioritizes America’s national security by requiring the Director of the Missile Defense Agency to report options to increase the capability, capacity, and reliability of the ground-based midcourse defense element of the United States ballistic missile defense system.
- Paid Parental Leave: Provides twelve weeks of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child.
- Rare Earth Elements: Authorizes an increase in funding for the Department of Defense to develop the capability to produce rare earth elements from coal ash, a market that China currently dominates.
- Nuclear Modernization: Fully funds the nuclear modernization program, including the triad of delivery systems, as well as the Department of Energy’s warhead life extension programs and infrastructure recapitalization.
- Technology: Invests in innovation that will keep us competitive, including 5G networks, cybersecurity, hypersonic weapons, and missile defense
- Joint Strike Fighter aircraft: Authorizes $12.2 billion to procure and develop 90 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft enabling the forces to modernize and equip themselves with the most cutting-edge and capable fifth-generation aircraft.
- Military Construction: Authorizes $11.8 billion for nation-wide military construction and housing projects in the base will, $921 million in overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding and $5.3 billion for disaster recovery on military installations.
- Military Sexual Misconduct: Extends the term of the Defense Advisory Committee on Investigation, Prosecution, and Defense of Sexual Assault in the U.S. Military, and includes multiple provisions to improve the response to sexual misconduct, including preventing and addressing retaliation against victims for reporting offenses.
- Health: Authorizes $32.7 billion for the Defense Health Program.