Kaine touts military spouse employment measures in Senate defense bill

tim kaineU.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the Senate passage of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes numerous provisions he championed to benefit Virginia’s shipbuilding industry, defense community, servicemembers, military spouses, and their families:

“Each year, I work across the aisle to make sure that the annual defense bill bolsters our national security, supports our servicemembers, and delivers key wins for Virginia’s defense community. This year, I was especially proud that my colleagues came together in a bipartisan way to support my provisions to tackle a big military readiness issue: high military spouse unemployment. As a member of the Armed Services Committee,Senator from one of the states most connected to the military, and the dad of a married Marine, I’ve heard a lot over the past year about the issues military spouses face in finding and keeping work as a result of frequent moves and unexpected transfers. This causes financial insecurity for military families and is a critical factor in a servicemember’s decision to stay in the military or not. The fact that I was able to gather immediate, bipartisan support behind this issue really made the difference, and I am thrilled that we are closer to offering relief to military families who sacrifice so much for our nation.”

The following list includes many of the programs and provisions Kaine advocated on behalf of during the markup process that were included in the final bill, which will directly aid Virginia’s defense industry:

  • Supports Shipbuilding: Includes a Kaine amendment, which puts the Armed Services Committee on record that it will work with Navy leadership to evaluate the inclusion of a block buy of aircraft carriers if they choose to move forward on the proposal put forward by Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII). It also includes $12.3 billion for Virginia shipbuilding priorities, including $7 billion for the Virginia Class Submarine, $3 billion for the Ohio Class Submarine, $1.6 billion for the Ford Class Carrier and $449 million for carrier refueling and overhaul.
  • Supports Servicemembers and Military Families: Funds a 2.6% pay raise for servicemembers and includes nearly every provision of Kaine’s bill, the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018 and an important provision on childcare from Kaine’s Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act of 2018. The provisions expand hiring and career opportunities, improve access to continuing education programs, help ensure military families can find affordable child care, expand transition and counseling resources, increase small business opportunities for military spouses, provide more opportunities for family wellness programs on military bases, and address the constant transfers and moves military families experience.
  • Builds on Kaine’s Work to Expand Access to Cyber Education in Virginia: For years, Kaine has led efforts through the NDAA to increase the number of cyber professionals in the country. This year, Kaine cosponsored an amendment to encourage the Secretary of Defense to establish new cyber institutes at schools with ROTC programs.
  • Authorizes Military Construction (MILCON): Authorizes over $266 million for 14 critical military construction projects throughout the Commonwealth, including $89 million for an Army National Guard Aviation Support Facility in Sandston, which Kaine publicly requested in January. Military construction projects were also authorized in Arlington, Fort Belvoir, Fort A.P. Hill, Dam Neck, Oceana, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Quantico, and Portsmouth.
  • Freedman’s Village Gate: Allows Arlington County to memorialize the location of Freedman’s village, a former slave community, by naming the newly constructed southern gate of Arlington National Cemetery, “Freedman’s Village Gate.”
  • No BRAC Round: Rejects DoD proposals for a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.
  • Addresses Recurring Areas of Instability: Kaine provided a proposal which finally allows DOD to better transition to stability operations following conflict.  A key lesson learned from the Iraq War was that our military was not equipped to conduct post-conflict stability operations which contributed to a resurgence of violence.  Agencies like the Department of State and U.S. Administration for International Development (USAID) are equipped to handle stability operations in post-conflict zones, but lack the resources and security to access the areas where assistance is needed.  Kaine’s provision will finally authorize DOD to properly support State and USAID in their efforts to access hard to reach areas in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia to provide lasting stability.

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