WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (all D-Del.) applauded the passage of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which each of them voted to support. The bill includes a 3% pay raise for troops, improvements to veterans’ access to care, new programs for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and more.
“I’m proud that Congress has come together to pass the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act, which will ensure the men and women in our Armed Forces have the necessary resources to keep our country and our citizens safe,” said Senator Carper, a 23-year veteran of the Navy and Naval Reserves. “By working together across party lines, this year’s NDAA will increase pay for our troops, invest in improving base housing for military families, and create better access to health care for our Vietnam veterans. I’m especially proud that during these hard times, we also delivered for Delawareans by securing resources for ROTC students in HBCUs like Delaware State University, support for Delaware jobs, and critical investments to modernize Delaware Air National Guard’s fleet of C-130 aircraft. This bill will improve our military readiness by upholding our promise to support our nation’s veterans, service members and their families.”
“For 60 years, Congress has passed an annual defense bill to ensure the readiness of our troops and the defense of our country. I’m proud that we also secured meaningful wins in the bill for all Delawareans,” said Senator Coons. “The FY21 NDAA includes support for ROTC students at HBCUs like Delaware State University, better care for our veterans, support for Delaware jobs, and more. It has been a year of unprecedented challenges, and this bill helps Delawareans and Americans to meet them at home and abroad.”
“One of the most serious and consequential obligations of our Congressional Delegation is working together to secure key provisions in the annual National Defense Authorization Act,” said Representative Blunt Rochester. “This year, working with Senators Carper and Coons, I’m proud to say that we have managed to secure vital care for our veterans, increase pay for our men and women in uniform, and create new opportunities for students at our incredible HBCUs like Delaware State University. I look forward to continuing to work together to advance our national security interests and Delaware’s interests.”
The annual defense bill passed today includes:
- Increasing pay for troops: The NDAA supports a 3% pay raise for our military, a 10% increase to hazardous duty pay, and over two dozen types of bonuses and special pay for troops.
- Ensuring access to care for Vietnam veterans: The NDAA provides a presumption of service-connection for bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism in veterans exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam. Based on the Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act, which Carper, Coons, and Blunt Rochester cosponsored, the larger piece of legislation will ensure that more Vietnam veterans access care without burdensome delays.
- Delaware jobs: The NDAA provides an additional $165 million to the CH-47 Chinook helicopter program for five CH-47F Block-II aircraft and advance procurement for future aircraft. This heavy-lift aircraft is critical to the Army and national security. The bill also authorizes additional support for four more V-22 Osprey aircraft. The funds are a win for the hundreds of Delaware Boeing employees at Ridley Park.
- Remediation for harmful chemicals known as PFAS: The NDAA builds on provisions in last year’s defense bill to increase funds for ongoing studies related to PFAS contamination in drinking water, a problem that has affected the Dover community. It also requires a survey on and research into firefighting technologies to phase out the use of foams containing PFAS and an interagency working group to coordinate research and other activities related to PFAS.
- Two new programs for HBCUs like Delaware State University: The NDAA includes provisions from the FLIGHT Act, bipartisan legislation led by Coons and Blunt Rochester and supported by Carper, to provide new resources for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps students at HBCUs like Delaware State University. The bill will help improve diversity in our military ranks and our pilot workforce.
- Improving base housing for military families: The NDAA 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. This year’s bill also 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.
- Modernizing Delaware Air National Guard’s fleet of C-130 aircraft: The NDAA rejects the Trump Administration’s request for cuts to the Air National Guard’s C-130 airlift capacity. Thanks to the work of the Delaware congressional delegation and Governor John Carney, the NDAA provides funding to maintain and upgrade airlift capacity, including $55 million to support propulsion and propeller upgrades for Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130H airlift aircraft, $79 million for C-130 engine upgrades, and funding for seven additional C-130J aircraft.