Readiness Chairman Garamendi Secures Major Wins in FY21 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report

Readiness Chairman Garamendi Secures Major Wins in FY21 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report

Washington, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, applauded the passage of the conferenced Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the House of Representatives. Garamendi was appointed as an NDAA conferee again this year, responsible for negotiating the final bill. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 335-78. The bill will be voted on by the Senate later this week and sent to the President’s desk for final signature.

“This legislation comes at a critical moment for our nation as we grapple with a once-in-a-century global pandemic. This NDAA provides the resources necessary for our military to respond to COVID-19 and help prevent the spread of this highly transmittable and deadly virus. The legislation also includes a much-deserved 3% pay increase for our service members and makes robust investments in training, infrastructure, sustainment, and logistics to support military readiness. As a member of the NDAA conference committee, I’m proud of the work that’s been done by Members and staff to create a strong, bipartisan NDAA that will help our service members, veterans, and nation,” Garamendi said.

“As Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, I was pleased that many of the priorities I fought for were included in the final conference report. The Readiness portion of the bill includes provisions to require the military to prepare for the effects of climate change and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, address contamination and health risks associated with Per- and Polyfluorinated (PFAS) compounds  around military installations—including Travis and Beale Air Force Base in my district—and ensure service members and their families have the best possible on-base housing,” Garamendi said.

The FY 2021 NDAA includes the following provisions that Garamendi helped secure:

Supporting the Mission at Beale Air Force Base

  • The legislation includes $22.8 million for Beale Air Force Base to construct a new fuel storage tank. The project will construct a new 10,000-barrel jet fuel (JP-8) tank, a transfer pump house with 600 gallon per minute (GPM) pumps and filter separators, and two tank truck off-loading stations and will significantly modify the existing truck fill stand.
  • Updates existing public law prohibiting retirement of the RQ-4 or U-2 aircraft until specific certifications or waivers have been provided to Congress.

Prioritizing Energy Resiliency

  • Requires a report on efforts taken to ensure fuel consumption, distribution, and logistics are being considered across the Department and that steps are being taken to reduce consumption of fossil fuels by 30 percent in 25 years to reduce the number of resupply convoys and oilers required in a contested environment.
  • Creates a pilot program that requires the services to expand their use of alternative fuel non-tactical vehicles (sedans and vans) to increase use of hybrid and EV vehicles and lower emissions.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to institute energy metering on critical military facilities to assess the energy requirements and plan to ensure resilient power sources for these facilities.
  • Establishes a pilot program to develop microgrids on military installations that integrate emergency diesel generators to demonstrate how microgrid emergency diesel generator backup power could create efficiencies and resiliency while reducing costs and emissions.
  • Promotes the use of on-site energy production to promote military installation energy resiliency and energy security.
  • Requires an assessment of the Department’s installation and operational energy usage.
  • Re-establishes the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund, which was eliminated in the budget request, and authorizes $65 million to demonstrate and field technologies that reduce fuel consumption and logistics.
  • Established an Operational Energy budget line to enhance transparency and congressional oversight of Department’s efforts to reduce fossil fuel usage and make conservation gains on operational platforms.
  • Requires the Comptroller General to assess the Department’s progress towards meeting net zero goals for installations to include an assessment of the cultural and legislative barriers to meeting these goals.

Combatting the Climate Crisis

  • Requires an update to the Department of Defense Climate Change Roadmap.
  • Requires a report on the implementation of provisions from the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act related to installation master planning, updates to the Unified Facilities Criteria (building codes), sea-level rise modeling, and climate assessment tools.
  • Includes and alternative fuel vehicle pilot program that will require the military departments to expand their use of alternative fuel non-tactical vehicles to increase the use of hybrid and EV vehicles.
  • Requires the Department to submit a report on its greenhouse gas emissions for the last 10 years within 180 days of enactment.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to invest in research and development of advanced water harvesting technologies that would aid in addressing water security issues in areas impacted by drought due to climate change.
  • Expands the military department’s ability to use installation resilience authorities to support climate resiliency projects at National Guard Facilities owned by the State.
  • Requires the military services to assess their water use at installations in regions experiencing water scarcity, maximize use of landscaping practices that reduce water usage, and improve their water conservation.

Continues efforts to address contamination associated with per- and polyfluorinated (PFAS) compounds around military installations

  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to notify all agricultural operations in an area where covered PFAS has been detected in groundwater that is suspected to originate from use of firefighting foam on a military installation.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to notify the congressional defense committees when there has been an uncontrolled release of PFAS-containing firefighting agent.
  • Establishes a prize that can be awarded by the Secretary of Defense for innovative research that results in a viable replacement agent for firefighting foam that does not contain PFAS.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to survey and report on non-firefighting agent technologies, such as hangar flooring and firefighting equipment, that will help facilitate the phase-out of PFAS containing firefighting agents.
  • Makes technical corrections to the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that all National Guard installations are eligible for funding under the Defense Environmental Restoration Account for PFAS remediation.
  • Establishes an interagency coordinating body for PFAS research.
  • Prohibits the Department of Defense from procuring certain items containing PFAS, including cookware, and carpets and upholstery with stain-resistant coatings.
  • Authorizes the Department to work with private entities to spur research, development and testing of PFAS-free fire-fighting agents.
  • Requires the National Institute of Standard and Technology to study the safety of firefighting equipment with respect to protecting fire fighters from PFAS, and conduct research on improving the safety of this equipment.
  • Authorizes $90 million for research lines that support development of PFAS remediation and disposal technologies and firefighting agent replacement.
  • Authorizes a total of $1.4 billion for environmental remediation and BRAC accounts which support a range of remediation activities, to include those related to PFAS, at current military installations, formerly utilized defense sites, and installations closed by BRAC.

Inclusion of H.R. 2617, the Occupational and Environmental Transparency Health (OATH) Act

  • Previously, active duty members and veterans were unable to make disability claims with the Veterans Administration based on exposure to toxic hazards such as mold, chemicals, and open-air burn pits because those exposures were not tracked in their medical records.
  • Provisions from Garamendi’s bill (OATH Act) were included in last year’s FY20 NDAA to ensure active-duty military personnel and veterans can accurately document toxins they were exposed to while deployed so they can receive treatment for any health issues stemming from that exposure.
  • The remaining provision of Garamendi’s bill was included in this year’s FY21 NDAA to require DoD to integrate information from the Burn Pit Registry into servicemembers’ Electronic Health Records. This will aid in collecting, documenting, and tracking any exposures to Occupational Environmental Health (OEH) hazards.

Securing Safe Pharmaceuticals

  • Requires the inclusion of drugs, biological products, and critical medical supplies in the national security strategy for the national technology and industrial base, and requires a report assessing the vulnerabilities in the NTIB with respect to drugs, biological products, vaccines, and critical medical supplies of the Department of Defense.
  • Inspired by Rep. Garamendi and Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s (R-MO) bipartisan "Pharmaceutical Independence Long-Term Readiness Reform Act" (H.R. 4710).

Paid Parental Leave

  • Makes technical corrections to the Paid Parental Leave benefit provided through the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and certain other civilian employees inadvertently omitted from the legislation receive the paid parental leave benefit.

Pushing Back Against President Trump’s Raid of Military Funds for the Border Wall

  • Amends the national emergency military construction authority (10 USC 2808) to set an annual limit of $100 million for the domestic use of the authority and $500 million for overseas projects, with an exception for medical projects that may be necessary to support response to a health emergency or pandemic.
  • Does not backfill military construction funds stolen for the border wall.

Builds on the Committee’s Previous Legislative and Oversight Activities to Ensure that Military Personnel and Their Families Live in Quality Housing and that the Department and Private Housing Partners are Responsive to Resident Concerns

  • Requires a report on the oversight of known environmental hazards in government owned family housing, including overseas housing.
  • Requires the Department of Defense to report on the feasibility of standardizing privatized housing performance metrics to better allow the Department to track trends across the housing enterprise.
  • For future and renegotiated privatized housing agreements, requires that funding for housing maintenance and recapitalization be prioritized ahead of housing management and other fees in the payment structure.
  • Updates minimum health and safety standards for all military base housing, requires transparency for private housing company contract performance fees, and requires a report on the status of other military housing reforms.
  • Increases transparency by requiring DOD to notify Congress of large expenditures coming from the family housing reinvestment accounts.
  • Repeals the provision in Title 10 that allowed the Department of Defense to place families in substandard housing units.
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to implement Comptroller General recommendations for improvement of military family housing.
  • Authorizes an additional $60 million for oversight and improvement of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) program and to continue addressing environmental and maintenance issues in government-owned family housing.

Strengthening Maritime Logistics

  • Establishes a Tanker Security Program, consisting of 10 privately-owned, militarily useful U.S.-flag product tankers. This program is modeled after the Maritime Security Program, providing badly needed sealift capacity for fuel products while ensuring that these goods travel on vessels owned by United States citizens, crewed by American mariners and operated under the United States flag.
  • Strengthens U.S. flagged vessel requirements for the movement of military cargo, bringing military’s cargo preference in line with existing cargo preference law for civilian agencies.
  • Directs DoD to study the strategic and tactical maritime logistics force required to support maritime logistics and establish a bulk fuel distribution strategy that reduces DoD reliance on Foreign-flagged vessels.
  • Authorizes the procurement of up to four used sealift vessels. Authorizes a total of over $494 million for the Maritime Security Program (MSP), $180M more than the President’s budget to help mitigate the impacts of COVID on our maritime carriers.

Makes Investments in key Readiness Accounts and Military Infrastructure to Support the Training, Sustainment, and Quality of Life for Military Personnel and Their Families  

  • Authorizes appropriations for $8.4 billion in military construction, family housing, and BRAC cleanup activities. This includes the following increases above the budget request: 
    • $170.4 million for additional projects under the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program and planning & design for future projects;
    • $159 million for additional Child Development Centers;  
    • $84.2 million for additional housing and barracks projects for training and enlisted personnel;
    • $60 million for the costs to complete Air Force projects that have experienced cost-growth;
    • $25 million for additional planning and design associated with military installation resiliency initiatives; and
    • $15 million to support planning & design requirements associated with posture initiatives of the Indo-Pacific Command.
  • Establishes the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation and codifies in law the Department of Defense entity that run the Joint Land Use Study, DOD Schools, Defense Community Infrastructure Program, and Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program to ensure stability and effective community engagement.  
  • Authorizes $50 million for the Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP) and clarifies congressional intent with respect to the implementation of the program.   

Authorizes appropriations for operation & maintenance accounts that support military operations, training, and weapon system sustainment. This includes the following increases above the budget request:  

  • $483.4 million for facilities sustainment, restoration, and modernization to help with the backlog of facility requirements; 
  • $90 million to establish a dedicated funding line for Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) facility sustainment, restoration, and modernization projects related to SIOP.  
  • $142 million for sealift readiness to help address shortfalls found during a turbo activation exercise in 2019; 
  • $104.610 million to retain 13 KC-135 and 10 KC-10 aerial refueling aircraft originally scheduled for divestment; 
  • $148.42 million to retain A-10 aircraft originally scheduled for divestment, and sustain a fleet of 281 aircraft;   
  • $90 million for Child Youth Services programs;  
  • $60 million for the acquisition and conversion of two additional used sealift vessels. This would bring the total to $120 million for four ships authorized in the bill.

Agent Orange Protections

  • Provides long overdue benefits to Vietnam-Era Veterans, adding three new diseases to Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions List — hypothyroidism, bladder cancer and Parkinsonism — conditions thought to be caused by exposure to the chemical herbicide Agent Orange. This will give roughly 34,000 veterans diagnosed with hypothyroidism, bladder cancer or Parkinsonism access to disability compensation and health care services.