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U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine hails passage of defense bill

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, hailed final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2014 – the annual defense bill that includes important provisions Kaine advocated for Virginia during committee markup of the legislation in June 2013. The measure was passed, 84-15.

tim kaine“With passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, I’m pleased we will be able to provide our nation’s military with budget certainty to maintain readiness, and our servicemembers with the support they deserve. Together with passage of a two-year budget agreement earlier this week, this legislation is a win for Virginia, authorizing full funding for our shipyards in Hampton Roads to continue producing and repairing aircraft carriers, submarines and surface ships. It also includes 36 historic reforms to tackle the serious and longstanding problem of sexual assault in the military.

“I’m also proud that key provisions of the first piece of legislation I introduced, the Troop Talent Act, were included. Providing active duty servicemembers with the tools they need to more easily receive credentials for the skills they acquire through military training will now become law, greatly easing their transition to a civilian career. This is a small but important step to help whittle away at the unacceptably high rate of veterans’ unemployment – particularly among those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan – and I remain committed to exploring all avenues to address this issue.”

The following list includes many of the provisions Kaine advocated for Virginia’s defense community that were included in the NDAA:

Troop Talent Act Becomes Law:  Key provisions of Kaine’s first bill, the Troop Talent Act of 2013, were included in the authorization act, including the main provision that requires information on civilian credentialing opportunities be made available to servicemembers at every stage of military training. It also requires that information on military training and experience be provided upon request to civilian credentialing agencies and other approved entities. Kaine’s amendment to enhance Department of Defense education assistance standards by requiring that participating schools be eligible for federal funding under title IV of the Higher Education Act was also included. This provision will ensure that DoD educational programs meet the same standards currently required for other educational federal funding, such as Pell Grants.

Shipbuilding and Ship Repair: The authorization act supports our shipbuilding priorities and authorizes funding for the USS Gerald R. Ford and USS John F. Kennedy, as well as the submarine fleet. Critical readiness funds were also included for Virginia’s ship repair industry. Increased funding, coupled with passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 this week, will increase certainty for shipyard workers and other civilian Department of Defense employees.

Includes Whistleblower Provisions on Sexual Assault in the Military:  The authorization bill includes 36 provisions to enhance sexual assault prevention and response, including provisions from the Military Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act that was introduced by Senators Warner and Kaine to help servicemembers report unwanted sexual contact without fear of retribution. Kaine also supported many additional measures to combat sexual assault that were included in the final bill, including the presence of a Special Victims’ Counsel in each service and the requirement that any decision not to prosecute is reviewed by the service secretary.

Restores Readiness to Operations and Maintenance Accounts Cut by Sequester:  Kaine has pushed for increased readiness accounts to support ship operations and repairs, many of which are done in Hampton Roads. The bill restores $3.5 billion in critical funding in all Operations and Maintenance (O&M) accounts, which will help all service branches maintain readiness for our national security.

No BRAC Round:  A new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round is not authorized in the defense bill.

Report on Long-term Impacts of Sequestration: Kaine’s floor amendment requesting a GAO report on the long-term budgetary costs of sequestration was included in the authorization bill.

Includes STEM assessment: Kaine’s floor amendment to assess Department of Defense  Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs was included in the authorization bill. Kaine is a longtime advocate of stem education.

Guantanamo: Facilitates the transfer of cleared detainees, either to their country of origin or otherwise designated overseas location.

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