Sen. Ernst Statement on Completion of National Defense Authorization Act Markup

Written by Theresa Rose on May 15, 2015

“I am pleased to see that seven of my amendments were included in the NDAA which added processes to ensure the VA is proactive in its outreach to veterans suffering from mental health issues, pushes the US and our allies to provide the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga with the weapons and equipment needed to combat ISIS without delay, and ensures that federal programs are efficient, on budget and on schedule, among many other critical measures.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) released the following statement after the Senate Armed Services Committee completed markup of the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill will head to the Senate floor where it awaits further action.

“This year’s National Defense Authorization Act prioritizes what is needed; it provides our military with the necessary resources to protect our national security while cutting wasteful spending.

“I am pleased to see that seven of my amendments were included in the NDAA which added processes to ensure the VA is proactive in its outreach to veterans suffering from mental health issues, pushes the US and our allies to provide the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga with the weapons and equipment needed to combat ISIS without delay, and ensures that federal programs are efficient, on budget and on schedule, among many other critical measures.

“I am honored to have been a part of this bipartisan work on the Senate Armed Services Committee to complete markup of the NDAA and look forward to further discussions on this important legislation on the Senate floor.”

Ernst Language Included in NDAA:

“Sense of the Senate that the development of gender-neutral Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) standards are vital to determining occupational assignments for all members of the military. Studies being conducted by the US military on a gender-neutral standard should incorporate the best scientific practices available to ensure these studies do not result in unnecessary barriers for service in the US military. All DoD decisions on military occupational standards should be based on objective analysis on tasks required to perform the MOS, and such standards should not reduce the standards of our combat arms units.”

Summary of Ernst Amendments Included in NDAA:

· An amendment to improve the Clay Hunt SAV Act pilot program by requiring outreach of the VA’s community-based veteran peer support network to our wounded, ill, and injured service members, as well as all service members within 180 days of leaving service. This amendment will ensure the VA will be proactive, instead of reactive, with its outreach to those who have sacrificed for our nation on this important mental health pilot program.

· An amendment, for the next five years, to provide new or current leases on Army Ammunition Plants, under the Army’s ARMS initiative, the option of extending a 25-year lease for an additional 25-year period. This amendment will attract and retain greater investment, reduce facility sustainment cost, and provide a boost to some local communities – including the Des Moines County Iowa Army Ammunition Plant.

· An amendment to require, within a year of enactment of this legislation, a joint report to the Senate Armed Services Committee from the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Navy, a plan to jointly modernize Army and Marine Corps small arms during a 15-year period. This amendment seeks to reduce duplication of efforts between the services, potentially realize cost savings in developing common small arms weapons and technology, and improve the committee’s oversight of the modernization strategies of both of the branches of service whose primary mission it is to fight and win our nation’s land conflicts.

· An amendment to instill the sense of the Senate on the severity of the threat posed by ISIS to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan, and the security and stability of the region and the world. It also shares the sense that the US, in coordination with our coalition partners, provide without undue delay—the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga with the heavy weapons and equipment, and training necessary to defeat ISIS. This amendment reminds us that ISIS’s leaders have stated they intend to target our Homeland and American citizens, and recognizes the long-term and successful partnership between Iraqi Kurds and the US military during the Iraq War.

· An amendment to require the DoD to submit a report on ISIS, al-Nusra, and other terrorists group lines of communication through countries bordering Syria, and the threat posed by these lines of communication to the Homeland, our men and women in uniform, DoD installations, and diplomatic facilities located in Europe and Middle East.

· An amendment, cosponsored by Senators Inhofe and Ayotte, to permanently establish the National Guard State Partnership Program and require the DoD Comptroller to submit a report on establishing a central fund to manage the program under DoD.

· An amendment to bring much needed improvement to program and project management within the acquisition process at the DoD to ensure federal programs are efficient, on budget and on schedule. It takes the best practices from high performing organizations in the private sector and implements them at DoD, and it does without impacting current organizational structures or requiring additional resources. This amendment makes it possible for the first time to pinpoint and identify the appropriate personnel responsible for these programs by establishing standards and policies for DoD that are in accordance with nationally accredited stands and guidance for program and project management.