Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) released the following statement on House passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, which includes several key legislative provisions she authored that support Naval Base Ventura County, ensure continued funding for critical firefighting response aircraft, and address gender equity in our military. The defense bill also supports key improvements in pay and benefits for service members and their families, while also investing in future capabilities that make the United States safer and stronger.
“As the proud representative of Naval Base Ventura County, one of my top priorities in Congress is to ensure we continue to advance our nation’s security interests and provide our service members with the support and resources they need to do their jobs effectively and safely,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley.
“I was proud to support our service members with a 4.6% pay increase, 2.4% inflation bonuses for those earning less than $45,000/year, and an increase in the basic housing allowance. The bill also ensures a $15/hour minimum wage for workers on federal service and construction contracts.
“I am also pleased the bill includes several provisions I authored, including $60 million to complete the full procurement of the new Improved Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (iMAFFS), which is essential to fighting wildfires in California and throughout the country; a provision that will recognize biliteracy and high-levels of proficiency in second languages, which is key to safeguarding our national security; as well as key provisions to increase the Beneficiary Travel reimbursement rate for veterans, to improve reporting from the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans to help Congress, the VA, and other stakeholders better understand the changing and diverse needs of our nation’s women veteran population; to ensure veterans do not have to pay out-of-pocket for contraception; and a resolution to acknowledge the wrongful DOD policy that led to many service members being involuntarily separated or discharged from the Armed Forces due to pregnancy or parenthood from 1951 to 1976.
“I am committed to continuing to work with the Biden Administration to support Naval Base Ventura County and our military, both at home and around the world, so they have the resources they need.”
During floor consideration, six Brownley amendments were approved with broad bipartisan support, which will:
- Authorize $60 million to complete procurement of the new Improved Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (iMAFFS) system, which is critical to statewide and national firefighting capabilities. Nationwide, there are four Air National Guard units that utilize the MAFFS systems, including the 146th Airlift Wing at Channel Island Air National Guard Station in Ventura County.
- Create a federal grant program to help states and local school districts establish and implement Seal of Biliteracy programs to recognize high school students who achieve high levels of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in English and a second language (or an official Native American language in lieu of English) among graduating high school seniors, because language proficiency is critical to our national security.
- A resolution to acknowledge the wrongful DOD policy that led to many service members being involuntarily separated or discharged from the Armed Forces due to pregnancy or parenthood during the period of 1951 through 1976.
- Improve reporting by the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans to allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Congress, and other stakeholders to better understand the changing and diverse needs of the woman veteran population.
- Require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to increase the Beneficiary Travel reimbursement rate to be at least equal to the GSA reimbursement rate to adjust for the rising cost of gasoline, automobile maintenance, and insurance.
- Provide veterans access to the same copayment free contraceptive care as civilian and military service members.
Other provisions in the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act that Brownley helped to spearhead include:
- An amendment authored by Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) that authorizes the VA to use funds collected pursuant to leases, easements, civil asset forfeitures, 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.
- An amendment authored by Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP) that requires the establishment of an advisory board with representatives from the Marianas, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Freely Associated to advise the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on how to better serve veterans in the insular areas.
The bipartisan FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act passed the House by a vote of 329-101. More information about the bill, including a list of amendments considered on the House floor is available here.