Rightly so, the NDAA conference report supports key quality-of-life initiatives and improvements for military and civilian workers and their families. That includes delivering the largest pay increase in a decade for service members at 3.1 percent. Moreover, it finally sets in motion repeal of the misguided “Widow’s Tax,” which has for years wrongfully deprived surviving family of fallen military service members from getting their full benefits. Following outrageous reports of families suffering from poor conditions in privatized on-base military housing, I am relieved that the conference report takes strong action to protect tenants and prevent contractor mismanagement in the future. This includes reforms to the Privatized Military Housing Initiative and a new Tenant Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, many families at Tinker Air Force Base in the Fourth District of Oklahoma are all too familiar with Balfour Beatty’s mismanagement, which has resulted in unsafe and unhealthy conditions in numerous housing units built by the contractor. While I am encouraged that changes are being made to keep existing and future contractors accountable to their job of responsibly overseeing housing properties, it is unacceptable that many military families were victims due to negligence and neglect. I will continue to monitor the situation to ensure problems are resolved, conditions are improved and remain that way. As the Department of Defense (DOD) undergoes comprehensive reform of the existing military health care system (TRICARE), the NDAA conference report demands DOD complete its internal review of medical treatment facilities and provide its overdue assessment to Congress. In the meantime, the NDAA prohibits DOD from making any reductions, closures or changes to medical facilities and personnel that could limit access to care for service members, families and retirees.
Glad to see a strong, bipartisan vote on the #FY20NDAA in the House! The path to final passage for the defense bill is and has always been bipartisan – our conference report is great for all Americans! Looking forward to the Senate vote soon. pic.twitter.com/Ymp57hdOIZ— Jim Inhofe (@JimInhofe) December 11, 2019
In addition to authorizing funding to support our service members, military retirees, civilian personnel and their families, the NDAA importantly authorizes programs in line with the National Defense Strategy that improve readiness, capability and operations. Building on past efforts to restore readiness and promote modernization, the NDAA conference report ensures our military are equipped with the necessary equipment and training to counter threats and adversaries – old and new – around the world today. Certainly, Congress took a vital step toward delivering on the resources, reforms and benefits contained in the NDAA conference report. However, even after the Senate passes the report and the president signs it into law, half the job remains. To actually fund the critical programs and polices outlined in the NDAA, lawmakers must also come together to pass the defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2020. Considering the progress made recently on full-year funding bills for the government, I am hopeful that we will soon be able to do just that.