WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Senate voted 84-15 late last night to approve the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and sent it to the President to be signed into law.  U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the comprehensive, bipartisan defense authorization bill will help provide combat pay, a 1 percent pay raise to military personnel, as well as funding for ships, submarines, aircraft, and military equipment.  Reed also supported key reforms in the bill to help crack down on sexual assault in the military and strengthen  protections for victims.

“Sexual abuse not only is a violation of an individual, but it is a corrosive force that can undermine the trust that is essential for the functioning of any military unit.  Solving this epidemic will help strengthen our military.  This legislation includes important reforms to address this crisis and I will continue working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to ensure these reforms are carefully and thoroughly implemented to better protect our men and women in uniform,” said Reed, who noted that President Obama has already instructed Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin E. Dempsey to continue ongoing efforts to improve sexual assault prevention and response efforts, and directed them to report back with a detailed, comprehensive progress report in the coming year.

Reed also noted that the $632.8 billion defense authorization recognizes the increasing strategic importance Rhode Island plays in our national defense and authorizes funds for key initiatives Reed supported.

“This legislation authorizes full funding for the continuation of the Virginia-class submarine, which is a critical component of our national defense capabilities, and Rhode Island plays an important role in its construction.  It also helps restore military readiness and provides our servicemen and women with the resources, training, technology, equipment, and authorities they need to successfully carry out their mission,” said Reed, the Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, who helped ensure the NDAA fully authorizes the Virginia-class submarine program and the DDG-1000 program. 

The bill authorizes $5.8 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program, including two submarines in 2014, and advance procurement funding for two ships planned in 2015.  The bill supports the upcoming ten boat, five year multi-year contract currently being negotiated by the Navy and Electric Boat.  It also authorizes $1 billion to continue development of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement.

Reed noted the bill authorizes $12.4 million in military construction funds for renovations to Hewitt Hall at the Naval War College in Newport, as well as $6 million to build a C-130J Flight Simulator Training Facility at Quonset State Airport in North Kingstown.  This project will construct a flight simulator facility to train aircrews to fly the eight C-130J aircraft assigned to this installation.

“The Naval War College in Newport shapes the way the Navy thinks.  We need to ensure it has the facilities and technology to carry out its mission of training intellectually innovative leaders,” said Reed.  “I am also pleased that we are investing in a new C-130J Flight Simulator Training Facility at Quonset to ensure our pilots, aircrews, support, and maintenance teams get state-of-the-art training they need to be ready for duty.”

Reed also supported other key provisions in the NDAA to:

•           Raise pay for service members: Authorizes a 1 percent across-the-board pay raise for all members of the uniformed services, consistent with the President’s request.

•           Reform sexual assault prevention and response: Amends the Uniform Code of Military Justice to help prevent sexual assaults and more strongly punish offenders.  The bill requires mandatory reviews of cases that commanders do not choose to prosecute and enhances whistleblower protections to help increase the ability of servicemembers to report unwanted sexual contact without fear of retribution.

•           Restore readiness to operations and maintenance accounts cut by sequester:  The bill authorizes $1.8 billion in critical funding to restore cuts from sequester to the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.  These funds are critical for restoring readiness, funding training, and other critical resources to prepare for overseas operations.

•           Improve the ability of the U.S. Armed Forces to counter emerging and nontraditional threats, focusing on terrorism, cyber warfare, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery (including ballistic missiles).

•           Authorize $200 million for the Rapid Innovation Program for competitive, merit-based projects.

•           Restore DOD funding for the STARBASE program, a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program

•           Authorize $25 million in impact aid assistance to schools.

•           Authorize nearly $1 billion for DOD counter improvised explosive device (IED) efforts to defeat the device, attack the network, and train the force.

•           Direct the Secretary of Defense to develop a regional strategic framework for U.S. counterterrorism assistance and cooperation in North Africa.

•           Address the threats from nuclear weapons and materials by strengthening nonproliferation programs, maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent, reducing the size of the nuclear weapons stockpile, and ensuring the safety, security, and reliability of the stockpile, the delivery systems, and the nuclear infrastructure.

•           Terminate troubled or unnecessary programs and activities, identify efficiencies, and reduces defense expenditures in light of the nation’s budget deficit problems and to ensure proper stewardship of taxpayer’s dollars.  Ensures the future capability, viability, and fiscal sustainability of the all-volunteer force.

•           Emphasize the reduction of dependency on fossil fuels and seeks greater energy security and independence, pursues technological advances in traditional and alternative energy storage, power systems, operational energy tactical advantages, renewable energy production, and more energy efficient ground, air, and naval systems.

Now that the bill has been passed by both the House and the Senate it heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.