Tim Kaine lauds wins for Virginia in defense bill
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee, lauded on Friday important provisions he advocated for Virginia’s defense community that were included in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2014. The bill was reported out of committee on Thursday on a bipartisan vote of 23 to 3. Prior to the markup, Kaine sent a letter to Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) voicing support for these priorities and advocating for necessary resources.
“As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I’m extremely pleased to be able to secure support in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 for so many of Virginia’s critical defense priorities,” said Kaine. “From the inclusion of credentialing provisions of my Troop Talent Act, to increased funding for shipbuilding and readiness that will help blunt the impact of indiscriminate sequester cuts, to expanded protections for military sexual assault whistleblowers, I’m proud to support such a strong bipartisan bill that’s good for our country and our Commonwealth.”
The following list includes many of the programs and provisions Kaine requested in the letter to Levin and during the markup process that were included in the final bill:
- · Troop Talent Act: Key provisions of Kaine’s first bill, the Troop Talent Act, were included in the authorization act, including quality assurance measures, information sharing between credentialing programs and an expansion of a pilot program to credential more information technology professionals. Kaine first introduced the bipartisan bill in April and currently has 14 co-sponsors. Provisions of the Troop Talent Act were also included in the House of Representatives’ version of the authorization act, championed by Rep. Tammy Duckworth.
- · Shipbuilding Support: The authorization act supports the levels requested by President Obama for shipbuilding, raises the cost cap for the USS Ford and authorizes full funding for the USS John F. Kennedy. In addition, the bill authorizes full funding for two Virginia class submarines, and authorizes full funding for the Ohio replacement program, and the Littoral Combat Ship program. Kaine visited the Newport News Shipyard in February where many of these ships are constructed by more than 22,000 employees.
- · Restores Readiness to Operations and Maintenance Accounts Cut by Sequester:Kaine advocated increased readiness accounts to boost resources for ship operations and repairs, many of which are done in Hampton Roads. The bill restores $1.8 billion in critical funding to restore cuts from sequester to the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. These funds are critical for restoring readiness, funding training, flying hours, steaming days, depot maintenance, and critical resources to prepare for overseas operations. Kaine spoke with ship repair workers in Portsmouth about the challenges faced by sequestration and recently toured Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
- · No BRAC Round: A new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round is not authorized in the defense bill. In addition, the legislation includes a provision requiring the Department of Defense to look at overseas facilities first before considering another BRAC round. Kaine has consistently questioned the need for another round of BRAC during hearings with top defense officials and specifically argued that overseas bases should be considered for closure before the Department of Defense looks to domestic installations.
- · Includes Whistleblower Provisions on Sexual Assault in the Military: Significant provisions from the Military Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, introduced by Senators Warner and Kaine, are also included in the legislation. The inclusion of these proposals will increase the ability of servicemembers to report unwanted sexual contact without fear of retribution. Kaine also supported additional measures to combat sexual assault that were included in the final bill.
- · Fully Funds Virginia Military Construction Projects: The FY14 NDAA bill reported out authorizes full funding for military construction projects at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Naval Station Norfolk, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Naval Air Station Oceana, and Naval Weapons Station Yorktown. The bill also authorizes full funding for projects at the Defense Logistics Agency in Richmond, the Department of Defense Education Agency at Quantico, U.S. Special Operations Command at Naval Air Station Oceana Dam Neck Annex and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, and the Washington Headquarters Services at the Pentagon.
- · Support for Military Family Assistance Programs: The authorization bill fully funds programs to support military families including funds for military family assistance programs, including child care and youth programs, morale, welfare and recreation programs, warfighter and family services, Defense Commissary Agency, Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Military Spouse Employment Program. Kaine has met with military families many times during his first six months as a senator to hear about the challenges they face and learn new ways Congress can support them, especially when their loved ones are overseas.
- · Marine Security Program at Quantico: The bill authorizes important funds for the Marine Security Guard program that includes support and protection for U.S. Embassies abroad. The headquarters of this program was visited by Kaine during a tour of Marine Base Quantico.
- · Resources for Capital Improvements at Radford Arsenal: The bill requires the Secretary of Defense to review critical manufacturing facilities, such as the Radford Arsenal that are key to the nation’s defense industrial base. This review will determine future improvements that need to be made to these facilities.
Kaine also secured inclusion of an amendment to call for a replacement to sequestration. The amendment urges Congress to find a solution to sequestration because it continues to damage readiness. Other programs included in the NDAA boost manufacturing initiatives, support DOD renewable energy efforts, and continue to sustain important resources for defense labs, research and development and the DARPA program.