Sen. Case: Defense authorization bill passed by House fails on national issues but strengthens Hawai‘i’s role in Indo-Pacific
The $886 billion U.S. House-passed version of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act strengthens America’s national defense in the Indo-Pacific, according to U.S. Rep. Ed Case (HI-01).
The bill authorizes $9.7 billion to expand the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which seeks to enhance U.S. deterrence and defense posture in the Indo-Pacific region. This is an increase of $600 million over President Biden’s budget request.
Case said the initiative highlights key elements and investments needed to maintain the country’s competitive advantage and lays the foundation that will be indispensable for decades to come.
“Hawai‘i, which plays a central role in our National Defense Strategy in the Indo-Pacific, is an important element of this initiative and stands to continue to benefit from the investments necessary to implement PDI,” Case said.
The bill includes the following full House amendments:
- Directing the military to issue a report to provide transparency on efforts to renew training land leases in the State of Hawai‘i.
- Requiring the Department of Defense to assess local capacity for applicable medical care and educational services on quarterly basis to support Exceptional Family Member Program-enrolled families.
- Requiring the military to reexamine the calculation of impact aid payments for eligible federally connected children with disabilities.
- Amending the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative to ensure that regionally associated installations, such as those in Hawai‘i, can better coordinate and enter into agreements with projects that are in vicinity to other installations but effect current or anticipated military training, testing or operations within the region.
- Directing the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs to assess and develop plans for Civic Action Teams in the Pacific Islands.
- Modifying the Pilot Program to Develop Young Civilian Defense Leaders in the Indo-Pacific to also include civilians working for ministries with a security mission so that Pacific Island countries without militaries can participate.
The bill authorizes over $1.5 billion in military construction projects in Hawai‘i. This includes $5.4 million to begin construction of a new air traffic control tower at Wheeler Army Airfield as the existing control tower no longer meets the current operational and safety requirements for airfield operations.
The bill includes the following other programs, provisions and funding affecting Hawai‘i:
- Construction projects authorized for Hawai‘i:
- Pearl Harbor Dry Dock: $1.4 billion
- Military Housing Privatization Initiative restructure at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam: $75 million.
- Water Reclamation Facility Compliance Upgrade at Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i: $50 million.
- Āliamanu Military Reservation Water Storage Tank Upgrade: $20 million.
- Wheeler Army Airfield Air Traffic Control Tower: $5.4 million
- Requiring the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan for the transition of Joint Task Force Red Hill.
- Establishing a Space National Guard, limited to those states and territories with Air National Guard units currently performing the space mission. The State of Hawai‘i currently has members of the Air National Guard executing Space Force missions.
- Requiring the Secretary of Defense to conduct a feasibility study into leveraging resources across states and the private sector to better advance the Department of Defense State Partnership Program. The Hawai‘i National Guard currently has partnerships with Indonesia and the Philippines.
- Directing the Department of Defense to conduct a Joint Housing Requirement and Market Analysis for military installations in Hawai‘i and report on impacts to Hawaii’s affordable housing supply and private rental market.
- Making the Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot permanent.
- This program provide grants to support community infrastructure projects that benefit military installations and those who live near military bases.
In 2022, Hawai‘i received $2.5 million through this program to work with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to construct a new firefighting and conservation warehouse to improve wildfire response and enable maintenance and repair of firefighting vehicles.
- Requiring the military to evaluate service members for exposure to
per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, as part of its periodic health
assessments and deployment assessments.
- Directing the Department of Defense to assess the missile defense of Hawai‘i to
ensure that Hawai‘i is sufficiently protected from missile threats by
The NDAA also address various critical Indo-Pacific priorities:
- $360 million to address unfunded priorities from U.S. Indo-Pacific
Command that were not included in the President’s budget.
- $7.1 billion for two Virginia-class attack submarines, which are
critical for the Indo-Pacific and can be stationed and maintained at
- $500 million to continue developing a modern missile defense
system for Guam.
- $225 million to accelerate the Glide Phase Interceptor program to
defend against hypersonic threats.
- $63 million for hypersonics-related research and development
across multiple military programs.
- Authorizing U.S. Special Operations Forces to continue training
Taiwan and other partner nations in resisting the aggression and
malign influence from China.
- Expressing a sense of Congress that the United States should
reinforce its alliance with the Republic of Korea.
- A study on health care availability for service members, Department of Defense
civilians and their families supporting missions in Japan and Joint
This year’s bill has several provisions that increase service members’ pay and benefits. It includes a 5.2% pay raise for service members and civilians, in addition to a monthly bonus for junior enlisted service members. It also restores Basic Allowance for Housing levels to 100% while simultaneously removing BAH from the calculation of the Basic Needs Allowance.
The bill also authorizes $50 million to assist local schools with military dependent students and $20 million for local educational agencies that support eligible children with severe disabilities.
“Even with these positive increased resources for Hawai‘i, investments in the Indo-Pacific and added support for our service members, I could not support the overall measure in its final form as proposed for full House passage,” Case said. “Unfortunately, and even tragically, as the annual NDAA has been one of the last bastions of nonpartisanship in a divided Congress, the majority chose to adopt poison pill amendments on national culture war issues which have no place in our national defense and in a bill which should be focused on national security matters. I sincerely hope those provisions are removed along the further progress of this otherwise-worthy bill and that I can vote yes on final passage.”