Kaine praises Virginia wins in 2019 Defense Bill
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the Committee’s 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. The bill was reported out of committee on a bipartisan vote and will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.
“Every year, I’m proud to take part in the bipartisan work that goes into ensuring we deliver a national defense bill that advances our security, supports our defense community, and provides our troops with the resources they need to keep our country safe. Senator McCain was sorely missed at markup this year, but even in his absence, he and his staff ensured that the Committee’s tradition of bipartisanship and commitment to our national security continued as we worked across the aisle to write this bill. Earlier this year, the Senate took critical steps toward supporting our military through a two-year spending deal, and the Committee combed through hundreds of amendments to ensure those dollars are spent in a way that will enhance our national defense where we need it. As with any large bill, there are some provisions that raised concern. The Republican majority weakened congressional oversight over the development of new nuclear weapons despite Democratic objections. I find this troubling and will seek ways to address it when it comes to the Senate floor.
“This year, I’m extremely thankful that my colleagues supported provisions I introduced from my bills, the Military Spouse Employment Act. Just a year ago, I met with military spouses who told me about the huge employment obstacles and financial insecurity they face because of frequent moves, lack of affordable childcare and licensing issues. That was unacceptable to me. As the father of a Marine I’m troubled about the lack of support for military families, and as a Senator I’ve been extremely concerned that it hurts our servicemembers’ ability to do their jobs, impacting the overall success of our military. In addition to provisions to lower the unemployment rate and improve childcare for military families, this legislation requires the military to look at how frequent moves and transfers affect military spouse unemployment, how that affects the readiness of our military, and what changes are necessary. I’m hopeful that this will be the beginning of righting this wrong and lowering the military spouse unemployment rate in Virginia and across the country.”
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 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.
- Establishes Cyber Institutes at VMI and Virginia Tech: 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 establish cyber institutes at senior military colleges across the country, including Virginia Military Institute and Virginia Tech.
- 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.