Washington, D.C.—Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) released the following statement on House passage of the William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, a strong bill that ensures America is prepared to meet the military challenges of the 21st century.
“It is critical that every year we pass the NDAA to ensure our service members have the necessary resource to complete their missions at home and abroad,” said Congressman Cuellar. “That’s why I voted for this bipartisan legislation, which makes historic investments to improve military readiness and strengthen alliances. This year’s NDAA also honors our commitment to our men and women in uniform as well as their families by giving them the compensation they deserve. As a member of the Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations, I am committed to funding programs that keep Americans safe and give our troops the resources they need to succeed.”
Specifically, the NDAA includes:
Providing A Pay Raise to the Troops: The conference report authorizes a 3.0 percent increase in basic pay for service members.
Requiring Improvements in Military Housing: Theconference report takes several steps to improve military housing, including updating minimum health and safety standards for all military base housing, repealing a provision that currently allows DOD to place families in substandard housing units, and requiring DOD to implement Comptroller General recommendations for improvement of military family housing.
Requires the establishment of a comprehensive mentoring program and career development framework with measurable metric and outcomes to retain the best and brightest in the military and increase the diversity at senior ranks.
Modification of Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Defense Education Program for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).
Providing Long-Overdue Benefits to Vietnam-Era Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange: The bill provides long-overdue benefits to Vietnam-Era veterans exposed to Agent Orange, including adding Parkinsonism, bladder cancer, and hypothyroidism to the list of diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange.
Ensuring Paid Parental Leave Extended to All Federal Employees: The conference report makes technical corrections to the paid parental leave benefit provided through the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and certain other civilian federal employees inadvertently omitted from the legislation receive the parental leave benefit.
Authorizing Hazardous Duty Pay for Service Members in Harm’s Way: The conference report authorizes the Secretary of Defense to standardize payment of hazardous duty pay for the uniformed services, including the members of the Guard and National Reserve. It also increases Hazardous Duty Pay from $250 to $275 per month.
Taking Steps to Further Protect Military Communities from PFAS. The conference report takes steps to further protect military communities from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including authorizing $1.4 billion for environmental remediation and BRAC accounts which support a range of remediation activities, to include those related to PFAS, at current military installations, formerly utilized defense sites, and installations closed by BRAC.
Including the Elijah Cummings Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination Act: The conference report includes the Elijah Cummings Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination Act, passed ty the House in January 2019, which strengthens equal employment opportunity protections for federal employees and strengthens prohibitions against discrimination and retaliation against whistleblowers.