Today, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) helped lead the U.S. House of Representatives in passing the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA provides for a 3.1 percent pay raise for military service members and a strong and a smart national defense strategy. U.S. Rep. Castor championed several important provisions in the bill that directly help MacDill Air Force Base service members and families, including tackling the mold problem in base housing and a new Tenants' Bill of Rights.
"My House Democratic colleagues and I worked hard to ensure that the NDAA supports our service members and their families, builds a strong and smart national defense that promotes American values and importantly ensures accountability. This NDAA authorizes the most robust defense budget in history," said U.S. Rep. Castor. "The Democratic Defense bill takes care of the single most valuable asset in national defense, our service members."
The 2020 NDAA authorizes approximately $733 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) and cuts $17 billion in wasteful funding for projects not included in the DOD's original planning but later requested in President Trump's proposed budget -- including $7.1 billion in border wall funding. The bill also redirects $8 billion from wasteful programs to those that will get our troops and military families the equipment and support they need.
"I am proud that the investments at MacDill Air Force Base that I championed were authorized in the NDAA, including a 3.1 percent boost in pay and $11.5 billion for military construction and family housing," U.S. Rep. Castor continued. "These resources will help empower military families to improve housing and specifically addresses mold and shoddy construction, concerns I heard directly from military families at MacDill Air Force Base. Our service members and their families at MacDill are the best and they deserve the best -- housing that is safe and clean and free from mold and shoddy construction."
After testifying to the House Armed Service Committee and bringing these issues to the forefront, U.S. Rep. Castor successfully worked with a bipartisan group of members to include a new Tenants' Bill of Rights for military families and greater accountability for private housing contractors. These provisions in the NDAA build on her work in the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill to hold contractors accountable and make military families whole when their lives are disrupted.
The bill also promotes American values like a more inclusive military -- greater diversity; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); and integration. Further, it underscores Congress' Constitutional role in the authorization to use of military force. As Chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, U.S. Rep. Castor led efforts to confront threats to our national defense and defense assets presented by the climate crisis: "The DOD has made it clear that climate change is an immediate risk to mission readiness. Military bases that I have inspected like MacDill Air Force Base and Naval Station Norfolk need to continue their work to become hardened and resilient in the face of rising sea levels and more frequent natural disasters," U.S. Rep. Castor said. "This NDAA will require the DOD to plan for and respond to the effects of climate change on our national defense. Like every other aspect of everyday American life, it is vital for our military to confront these risks with solutions and resiliency policies.
"I am also pleased that several amendments to the NDAA proposed by my colleagues were included. These amendments represent key Democratic priorities," U.S. Rep. Castor continued. "One amendment specifically underscores Congress' Constitutional role regarding war and prohibits the use of military force against Iran without congressional authorization. Other amendments overturn President Trump's transgender band and give all federal employees 12 weeks paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child and the care of an ill spouse or child."
U.S. Rep. Castor serves as the Chair of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, is a member of the powerful U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee and earlier in her tenure served on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. Her district includes MacDill Air Force Base and is home to U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), two of the Armed Forces' most important military commands. MacDill Air Force Base's 6th Air Mobility Wing is the centerpiece of the U.S. Air Force's Global Vigilance, Global Reach, Global Power mission with its essential functions of aerial refueling and airlift. The base's mission is vital to keeping America safe and ready for any contingencies we may face as a nation.