Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) Vice-Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and her House Armed Services Committee (HASC) colleagues advanced out of committee H.R. 7900, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023.
"This comprehensive FY23 NDAA is the result of thoughtful, crucial work to invest in our nation's defense," said Congresswoman Escobar. "El Paso and Fort Bliss were at the forefront of my proposals. I am proud to join my colleagues in creating important legislation for our country that not only addresses the threats of today but keeps in mind the challenges of tomorrow. I look forward to the final passage of this broad, encompassing bill."
Below is an overview of some of the key FY23 NDAA provisions authored and championed by Congresswoman Escobar:
Codify Tiguas Gaming Rights
Last year Congresswoman Escobar introduced her bill, H.R. 2208, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Act, to grant gaming rights to the Tiguas. This bill was included as an amendment, making their rights one step closer to being codified into law and granting this community its right to sovereignty.
Secure Funding for Ft. Bliss
Congresswoman Escobar successfully secured $15 million in first responder funding for a new firehouse at Fort Bliss included in the President's budget. The new station would serve the William Beaumont Army Medical Center area.
Address Community Infrastructure Supportive of Military Installations
Congresswoman Escobar ensured that language was changed in the Defense Community Infrastructure Program, which authorizes the Department of Defense to award grants to local and state governments for community infrastructure supportive of military installations. This amended language would allow critical infrastructure supporting military value to be eligible for funds, as not all assets on lands leased by the Department of Defense can currently be awarded grants.
Ease Reimbursement Costs for Military Spouse Entrepreneurs
Congresswoman Escobar's bill H.R. 7930, the Military Spouse Entrepreneur Reimbursement Act, was included in this year's NDAA. When servicemembers are required to move posts, their spouses face the challenge of how to move their business and livelihood. Congresswoman Escobar's bill eases reimbursement costs for military spouse entrepreneurs by expanding the reimbursement program to include a wider variety of eligible business costs.
Promote the U.S. Space Force's University Partnership Program
Congresswoman Escobar successfully advocated for increased funding for the U.S. Space Force's University Partnership Program. Having begun in 2021, this program has several universities connect with the Space Force for the purpose of recruiting students, leadership development, research, and sponsoring projects.
Increase Funding for the Military Munitions Response Program
Congresswoman Escobar secured $25 million in funding for the Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP) at Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS), which addresses the risks of the presence of military munitions. These sites have been underfunded for decades. This funding will ensure FUDS, like Castner Range, across the country are cleaned and the surrounding communities are protected.
Include Stakeholders in Castner Range's Protection
Congresswoman Escobar amended a 2013 NDAA land conveyance and transfer authority, that originally authorized the Secretary of the Army to transfer Castner Range, without consideration, to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Division, to include an authority to also potentially transfer Castner to the to the Department of the Interior.
Establish a Pilot Program for Electric Vehicles in the Army
Congresswoman Escobar is committed to addressing the climate crisis and ensuring a clean energy future. Congresswoman Escobar supported language to establish a pilot program for the Army to install a microgrid at military installations and field electric vehicle fleets. This program would be in accordance with the strategic goals of the Department of Defense and the Army Installation Energy and Water Strategic Plan.
Ensure the National Guard is Mission-ready
To ensure the National Guard is mission-ready, Congresswoman Escobar supported a directive instructing the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the House Committee on Armed Services detailing how the Department of Defense evaluates the readiness and retention of our National Guard.
Create Opportunities for Women and Minority Groups to Join the Air Force
To keep up with the high demand for qualified aviators, Congresswoman Escobar championed a provision in the NDAA to have the Secretary of the Air Force to provide a briefing to the House Committee on Armed Services on how the Air Force can engage with Minority Serving Institutions on developing innovative programs aimed at recruiting and training future pilots. Cost and culture have often been barriers to entry into the Air Education and Training Command for women and minorities. Congresswoman Escobar expects the briefing to bring solutions to the barriers these underutilized but talented groups face.