Norcross Cheers Final Passage of NDAA that Raises Wages for Service Members, Keeps Americans Safe
Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) -- a member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) -- applauded the final passage of the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The act raises wages for our men and women in uniform, improves readiness protocols, and boosts modernization and resiliency efforts.
"In an ever-changing and volatile world, we must ensure our military has the tools and manpower needed to defend our nation. While the final bill heading to the President's desk is not perfect, we worked hard on the Committee to prevent Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), improve ship safety to prevent future tragedies and enhance cybersecurity efforts," said Congressman Donald Norcross.
He added: "I've been long-fighting for ways to safeguard New Jersey's Joint Base and, this year, I focused on ensuring the KC-46s are delivered to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on schedule. These refueling tankers will bring new jobs and growth to our state and make our base an indispensable starting point for national security missions on the East Coast. While on schedule now, I will continue working to prevent the Air Force from falling behind."
The FY19 NDAA provides approximately $639.1 billion in the base defense budget, and approximately $69 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds. The NDAA takes action to address several shortfalls in President Trump's proposed budget, including provisions to improve aviation safety, support the Department of Defense's cybersecurity programs, and improve military healthcare programs.
Below are some specific provisions Congressman Norcross advocated for:
Protecting Joint Base MDL
Norcross worked to ensure that Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst won't be targeted by BRAC and the act did not contain provisions authorizing a new base closure round.
Norcross also led the effort to hold the U.S. Air Force to the planned schedule of delivery for the new KC-46 fleet. Ahead of the Committee debate, Norcross sent a letter supporting rapid program certification and delivery of the fleet to local bases.
For a second year running, General Darren McDew, Commander of the U.S. Air Force Transportation Command, testified to the Committee that the refueling mission is of the utmost importance to our national security. When asked by Norcross what keeps the General up at night, Gen. McDew said, "air refueling tankers."
Improving Naval Readiness in Memory of Cherry Hill Native
After the tragic loss of Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kenneth Smith from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, along with nine of his fellow sailors serving on board the USS John S. McCain last summer, Congressman Norcross led oversight efforts to ensure the U.S. Navy is taking action to prevent non-battlefield casualties at all costs. The bill includes a number of readiness provisions that address the amount of time a ship is forward-deployed overseas, command relationships, optimization of Navy inspections and crew certifications and surface warfare training and career paths.
In a bipartisan effort to understand how the Navy plans to improve surface ship safety, Norcross joined HASC Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman on a tour of the Naval Surface Warfare Officers School in Newport, Rhode Island in March 2018.
Raising Wages for Military Personnel
Norcross supported increasing military pay by 2.6%, and extending special pay and bonuses for service members, as well as benefits for Gold Star Families.
Supporting Israel, Our Democratic Ally in the Volatile Middle East
Norcross has consistently called for close military ties between the U.S. and Israel. The bill provides $500 million for Israeli Missile Defense co-development and co-production of the Iron Dome, David's Sling, and Arrow weapon systems, and includes a "Sense of Congress' supporting U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation.
Enhancing Criminal Data Reporting
Norcross, a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, supports gun safety measures in Committee, and advocated for measures that would help prevent tragedies like the Sutherland Springs Church shooting. The bill improves crime reporting by requiring the Department of Defense to establish a centralized oversight system to ensure criminal data is transmitted to the FBI database preventing the purchase of firearms.
Helping Curb the Opioid Epidemic
Norcross, Vice-Chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, is concerned about the high rates of addiction and suicide in the military, and he has been calling for prescription drug information sharing across-the-board, including in the military community. The bill requires the Department of Defense to establish a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to prevent opioid abuse within the military.
This follows Norcross' action last year to include a provision in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act that helps veterans struggling with the disease of addiction.
Enhancing Energy and Climate Resiliency
Norcross successfully advocated for provisions that require the installation of master plans to address climate and energy resiliency initiatives, and increase the funding for these initiatives.