Jun 11 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted in favor of the committee’s mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which included a number of bipartisan provisions spearheaded by Senator Tillis to improve the quality of life for servicemembers and military families. The bipartisan legislation supports $740 billion in national defense funding for fiscal year 2021.

As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, Senator Tillis chaired an open hearing on the mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 earlier this week. On a bipartisan basis, Senator Tillis and his subcommittee colleagues passed an across the board 3.1 percent pay raise for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines for the second consecutive year. Additionally, Senator Tillis continued to build on his work to take meaningful steps to address the serious issues with the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI). Senator Tillis’ personnel subcommittee mark-up also addressed military sexual assault prevention and response, COVID-19 vaccine and biotechnology research supported by DoD, and steps to combat Russian and Chinese aggression.

“I’m proud of the work we accomplished in the FY2021 NDAA on behalf of our servicemembers, including securing the second consecutive pay raise of over 3 percent, continuing improvements to military housing, and providing resources to support DoD research into a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Senator Tillis. “As Chairman of the Personnel Subcommittee, I’m proud we could come together to make substantial progress supporting our men and women in uniform and their families, and I want to thank my colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee for this bipartisan effort.”

The legislation now moves to the full Senate for consideration. A summary of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 is available here.

Senator Tillis’ Priorities in the NDAA:

Military Privatized Housing Initiative (MPHI):

  • Authorizes direct hire authority for installation military housing office positions responsible for supervising privatized military housing projects,
  • Prohibits the service secretaries from leasing any substandard family housing,
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to implement recommendations relating to military family housing issued in a report from the DOD Inspector General,
  • Requires the DOD Inspector General to conduct an audit of medical conditions of service members and their families who have resided in unsafe or unhealthy privatized military housing.

End Strengths/Pay and Compensation

  • Authorizes the following active duty end strength levels:
    • Army: 485,000
    • Navy: 346,730
    • Marines: 180,000
    • Air Force: 333,475
  • Provides for a 3.1 percent pay raise for members of the Armed Forces.
  • Reauthorizes more than 30 types of bonuses and special pay.

COVID-19 Response

  • Authorizes $44 million for vaccine and biotechnology research supported by DOD,
  • Provides reserve retirement relief for service members affected by the COVID-19 stop movement order,
  • Directs the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to provide a briefing on the effect of non-essential training reductions on the morale and readiness of military personnel
  • Implements a pilot program on civilian and military partnerships to enhance interoperability and medical surge capability and capacity of the National Disaster Medical System, which will provide training, expand capacity, and 
  • Establishes a framework for well-coordinated federal response to pandemics and other threats.

Military Justice and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response

  • Requires DOD to survey sexual assault response coordinators and sexual assault prevention and response victim advocates on their experiences in assisting victims of sexual assault and report on the results, 
  • Requires DOD to develop a policy at the military service academies and military educational institutions to minimize the association between an alleged victim and the accused while the parties complete their course of study, 
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to prescribe a policy that would allow victims of sexual assault to report the assault without fear of being disciplined for minor misconduct that was collateral to the sexual assault. 

Combatting Russia and China

  • Extends the limitation on providing sensitive missile defense information to Russia and on the integration of U.S. missile defense systems into those of China and Russia,
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on the risk to DOD personnel, equipment, and operations due to Huawei 5G architecture in host countries and possible steps for mitigation, 
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to consider 5G and 6G security risks posed by vendors like Huawei and ZTE when making overseas basing decisions,
  • Protects the defense industrial base and supply chain, as well as intellectual property and technology, from disruption, infiltration, or theft by the Government of China  
  • Fully funds the European Deterrence Initiative and increases funding to support rotational forces in Europe,
  • Requires a report on Russian support to racially and ethnically motivated violent extremist groups and networks in Europe and the United States that creates or causes growing national security threats, information warfare, and increasing risks to societal stability and democratic institutions,
  • Extends restrictions on military-to-military cooperation with Russia and any activities that would recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea,
  • Expresses a sense of the Senate that long-term strategic competition with Russia is a top defense priority that requires sustained investment and enhanced deterrence due to the level of threat posed, 
  • Prohibits the Secretary of Defense from using any funds to reduce air base resiliency or demolish protected aircraft shelters in the European theater without creating similar protection, or to close or return to host nations existing airbases until the Secretary certifies there is no need for a rotational military presence in the European theater. 

Supporting Military Families and Readiness

  • Continues efforts to promote professional development opportunities for military spouses, by authorizing $4 million to assist with the development of interstate compacts on licensed occupations for military spouses through the cooperative agreement with the Council of State Governments,
  • Standardizes and improves the Exceptional Family Member Program, which supports military families with dependents with special needs during their assignment, and establishes requirements for the Office of Special Needs to develop and update individualized services plans, Continues efforts to provide military families with quality, affordable child care, adds funding for child development centers playground equipment and furniture to address safety issues, and encourages DOD to develop policies to identify and remove recalled consumer products from child development centers,
  • Authorizes additional funding to maintain the student-teacher ratios at DOD schools and increases funding for Impact Aid by a total of $70 million to support school districts educating military children, which includes $20 million for Impact Aid for children with severe disabilities.
  • Improves DOD efforts to track and respond to incidents of child abuse involving dependents on members of the Armed Forces that occur on military installations,
  • Requires service secretaries to factor military family readiness considerations, among other relevant factors, in future basing decisions,

Additional Provisions Introduced by Senator Tillis:

  • Limits the divestments of KC-10s, which have all their maintenance work done in Greensboro, NC.
  • Requires DOD to study the future of Marine Corps Aviation to best modernize the force structure and protect F-35s based in NC.
  • Fosters a technology and research partnership between Fort Bragg and NC State.
  • Supports Historically Black Colleges Flight Programs by helping develop partnerships with local military bases and assesses the feasibility of providing financial assistance to ROTC students partaking in flight training.
  • Deepens our cooperation with our European allies by expanding cooperation on air and surface transportation.
  • Clarifies the Secretary of the Navy is responsible for paying for needed repairs and renovations at Fleet Readiness Center-East.
  • Helps to protect the defense industrial base and supply chain, as well as intellectual property and technology, from disruption, infiltration, or theft by the Government of China.
  • Supports the development of fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks to beat China in the geopolitical race to 5G.