WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) secured initiatives to support the National Guard and defense manufacturing in the annual National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate passed the bill on September 18 by a vote of 89-8.
“The National Defense Authorization Act approved in the Senate today authorizes funding for key national security programs across the federal government and provides a well-earned pay raise for those answering the call of duty,” Senator Carper said. “By working together, we produced a bipartisan bill that will boost our cyber security, crack down on wasteful spending and help states like Delaware make the investments needed to create jobs and enhance our workforce.”
“I’m delighted this bill includes support for Delaware service members and military missions,” said Senator Coons. “It will continue modernization of New Castle’s C-130H aircraft, provide a well-deserved pay raise for our troops, bolster manufacturing in the industrial base, and enhance the role of the Guard in our nation’s cyber defense.”
Continued C-130H Modernization and Upgrades
The bill continues modernization of and improvements to the National Guard’s C-130H aircraft. The bill provides $96.11 million for C-130H modernization and $26.8 million for upgrades to the aircraft. Continued funding for modernization will keep Delaware’s 166th Airlift Wing on pace to continue flying after stricter airspace regulations take effect in 2020. Funding for upgrades will increase the performance, efficiency, and reliability of the Delaware Guard’s C-130H fleet.
Troop Pay Raise
The bill authorizes a 2.1 percent across-the-board pay raise for members of the Armed Forces to help improve their quality of life, as we continue to ask them and their families to do more in response to rising threats around the world.
Greater National Guard and Reserve Role in Cyber Security
The bill includes the Department of Defense Emergency Response Capabilities Database Enhancement Act, which Senator Coons introduced with Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa. Senator Carper also co-sponsored this bill. The provision directs the Secretary of Defense to “establish and maintain” a database that can fully and quickly identify the cyber capabilities of every National Guard and Reserve unit that could be used to support civil authorities in a cyber emergency. This will help protect Delawareans and allow units like the Delaware National Guard’s 166th Network Warfare Squadron to defend the nation in event of a major cyberattack.
National Security Innovation and Entrepreneurial Education
The bill includes an amendment offered by Senator Coons and Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas that authorizes the Secretary of Defense to provide support to national security innovation and entrepreneurial education programs and expand exchanges and partnerships with Department of Defense science and technology activities. The amendment will build the foundation for a more accessible defense sector and provide opportunities for Delawareans to develop entrepreneurial skillsets to benefit the national security workforce.
Support for Manufacturing
The bill authorizes $20 million for the Manufacturing Engineering Education Program within the National Defense Education Program. It also includes $20 million for improving the productivity of the defense industrial base (MEPs), $15 million to support the partnership between MEPs and Manufacturing USA, and $20 million for a program to support Manufacturing USA institutes.
Protecting the Jobs of Delawareans
The bill supports jobs for Delawareans by authorizing continued investment in aircraft that people in the First State help to build and that are critical to the continued ability of the armed forces to carrying out missions, such as fighting extremism overseas and countering Russian aggression in Europe. The bill also includes Senator Carper’s amendment, which allows fuel cell technologies – like the kind produced by Bloom Energy – and battery technologies to be more competitive in the Department of Defense energy procurement process.
Cracking down on Misuse and Abuse of Government Purchase and Travel Cards
The bill includes the Saving Federal Dollars Through Better Use of Government Purchase and Travel Cards Act, introduced by Senator Carper and Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. The bill will help save taxpayer dollars and curb improper payments through enhanced efforts to prevent charge card misuse and abuse across the federal government. The bill builds off previous efforts championed by Senators Carper and Grassley after a DOD Inspector General report highlighted misuse of purchase cards and made recommendations that DOD should take to better monitor charge card spending.