2016 National Defense Authorization Act Passes Senate
The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which would authorize provisions important to Hawai’i’s economy and military community, in addition to strengthening the state’s national defense, was passed by the United States Senate Thursday.
Senator Brian Schatz, a member of the 71-25 vote, said the bill is important is strengthening and rebalancin., “The defense authorization bill includes many provisions that strengthen our national defense, reinforce the need to rebalance to the Asia Pacific—through which Hawai‘i is central—and provide our service members with the equipment and training they need to protect America. The bill specifically states that any withdrawal of U.S. forces from U.S. Pacific Command would undermine the rebalance to the Asia Pacific, and that U.S. forces under the operational control of U.S. Pacific Command—like those of U.S. Army Pacific based in Hawai‘i—should be increased, consistent with our commitment to the region.”
A number of provisions are included in the 2016 NDAA, which include the previously earmarked $444 million in military construction project requests and the authorization for appropriations. In addition, the Senate NDAA also approved $12.8 million for MV-22 Landing Pads at Kaneohe Bay and $9.7 million for a F-22 composition repair facility on Oahu.
The Act would also support calls for strengthening U.S. Pacific Command and the reauthorization of the National Guard State Partnership Program.
An amendment proposed by Senator Schatz to support military families was incorporated into NDAA. The provision would provide families of fallen service members serving on non-combat missions the same travel benefits as those who are serving in combat areas.
Earlier Thursday, Senator Schatz commented on the amendment:
“When our men and women in uniform are deployed anywhere in the world, they put themselves at great risk to serve our nation. And when our service members make the ultimate sacrifice for our county, we need to make sure their families receive all the benefits they deserve, whether their loves ones were killed on a combat or non-combat mission. My provision rights a wrong in our current policy and makes sure that families of fallen service members serving on humanitarian missions can travel and participate in the dignified transfer of the remains of their loved ones.”
Senator Schatz plans to address his concerns in appropriation bills on the Senate floor about using the OCO as a “budget gimmick” to get around the 2011 Budget Control Act’s spending caps.