Defense bill includes key legislative provisions authored by Brownley that support Naval Base Ventura County, ensure continued funding for critical firefighting response aircraft, and address gender equity in our Armed Forces.
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) applauded the House passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (H.R. 4350), which includes several amendments she authored and championed to support our servicemembers and their families, strengthen our national security, and make key investments in innovation and emerging technologies.
“As the representative of Naval Base Ventura County, my vote in favor of the FY2022 NDAA was a vote to support the existing and new commands at our base and to support our servicemembers,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley.
“The NDAA also included major victories for our military personnel and their families, including a 2.7% base pay increase for military personnel, expanding the in-home child care program, and increasing the allowable parental leave.
“I am also pleased that the bill includes $15 million for upgrading the California Air National Guard’s Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, which is essential to fighting wildfires in California and throughout the country. I fought for this funding, and I appreciate the assistance of Congresswoman Sara Jacobs who helped secure it.
“In addition, the NDAA makes historic changes to better combat sexual assault in the military, including removing the Commander from decisions related to the prosecution of sexual assault crimes and creating an Office of Special Victim Prosecutor to prosecute these crimes.
“This bipartisan bill honors our nation’s military and their mission to protect our country and its people, support our servicemembers, strengthen our security, and advance our leadership in the world. Congress has a responsibility to uphold these values, and I take this responsibility very seriously. That is why I will continue to work to support Naval Base Ventura County and ensure the men and women who serve in uniform have the resources they need to successfully carry out their missions in defense of our country.”
During floor consideration, four Brownley amendments were approved with broad bipartisan support, which will:
- Require the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to ensure gender equity in the cost of uniforms, a measure that ensures equal pay for all who serve in our nation’s military.
- Create a federal grant program to help states establish and implement a Seal of Biliteracy program to encourage and recognize high school students who achieve proficiency in both English, and at least one other language, which is critical for national security.
- Direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study to identify the women who were involuntarily discharged for pregnancy or parenthood from 1951-1976 and if there were disparities in those separations that took place based upon branch of service, rank, race, and ethnicity.
- Mandate the VA Advisory Council on Women Veterans make their report an annual requirement, to allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Congress, and the public to better understand the changing and diverse needs of the woman veteran population.
Other provisions in the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act that Brownley helped to spearhead include:
- $15 million to make necessary improvements to upgrade the current Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS). The MAFFS units operated by California’s 146th Airlift Wing are critical to state-wide firefighting capabilities. Brownley worked with Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, to ensure these California Air National Guard assets are able to continue to play a vital role in the fight against wildfires and that their efforts be fully supported by DOD.
- An amendment to establish a housing stipend for federal wildland firefighters, many of whom are veterans, hired at a location more than 50 miles from their primary residence with the allowance being determined by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture and be based on the cost of living in the area of deployment.
- An amendment to establish a mental health program for federal wildland firefighters, including a mental health awareness campaign, peer-to-peer support network, expansion of the Critical Incident Stress Management Program, and mental health leave. The amendment also ensures trauma-informed mental health professionals are readily available to provide services.
- An amendment that authorizes the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to use any funds collected pursuant to easements, or other use-agreements at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, for the development of supportive housing and services on campus for homeless veterans.
The bipartisan FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act passed the House by a vote of 316-113.