Reed Hails Final Passage of Defense Bill to Benefit Servicemembers, National Security, & RI
Reed champions historic reforms to strengthen military justice system and support for survivors of sexual assault & helps bolster RI's defense workforce
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate voted 89-10 to approve the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022, which authorizes a total of $768.2 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) and national security programs of the Department of Energy. This legislation, which previously passed the U.S. House of Representatives, now goes to President Biden to be signed into law.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says the FY22 NDAA strengthens our military, provides a framework to ensure each service can accomplish its highest priority missions, boosts advanced technologies and capabilities, and delivers historic reform to protect our forces and their families.
“With this vote, Congress is standing up for our servicemembers to ensure they have the resources and support needed to carry out their missions and keep Americans safe,” said Senator Reed. “This NDAA addresses a broad range of pressing issues, from strategic competition with China and Russia, to disruptive technologies like hypersonics, AI, and quantum computing. It provides our forces with the resources and support they need to defend our nation, makes historic reforms to help improve the lives of our servicemembers, and takes important steps to care for their families.
Reed notes that this bipartisan bill authorizes over $13 billion for submarine research, development, and production which will support thousands of workers, suppliers, and small businesses across Rhode Island.
“Rhode Island’s defense sector is a key contributor to our economy and supports over 30,000 jobs. This bill means smart investments in workforce development and more good-paying jobs in Rhode Island for years to come,” said Reed, who has worked for decades to position Rhode Island for economic growth, invest in the state’s advanced manufacturing infrastructure, and ensure Rhode Island is a leader in the ‘blue economy’ and undersea research, development, innovation and technology, including critical work the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC); the Naval War College; local colleges and universities and private sector technology clusters; and at Quonset Point, where General Dynamics Electric Boat has submarine manufacturing facilities.
In 2018, Electric Boat broke ground on a 1-million-square-foot, $800-million multi-year expansion of its manufacturing facilities at Quonset Point. Senator Reed has worked for years to help fund improvements in and around the Quonset Business Park to help attract and retain business in the area.
The bipartisan defense bill addresses a wide range of issues:
Pay Raise for Troops & Expanding Parental Leave
The 2022 NDAA authorizes a 2.7 percent pay raise for members of the military and the DOD civilian workforce.
“This bill makes critical investments in the readiness and well-being of our total force—including active duty, reserve, National Guard, civilians, and their families. It provides them, and the DOD civilian workforce, with a well-deserved pay-raise and ensures we have the proper support, force structure, and systems in place to meet their most pressing needs,” Reed said.
The bill includes several initiatives to better support military families, including authorizing a new allowance to ensure military families can meet their basic needs and increasing parental leave to 12 weeks for all servicemembers for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. The bill also creates a new two-week bereavement leave benefit for both military and Federal civilian employees.
Military Justice Reform
The bill also includes historic reforms to how the military investigates and prosecutes sexual assault and other offenses -- including murder, manslaughter, and kidnapping -- under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. To ensure a professional, fair process, it entirely removes the prosecution of these crimes from the military chain of command. The bill creates a new punitive article criminalizing sexual harassment, and requires that complaints of sexual harassment be investigated by an independent investigator fully outside the chain of command. The bill requires the Secretary of Defense to create an office to track allegations of retaliation against victims of sexual assault or harassment and third-party individuals who have reported an incident, and authorizes the Department of Defense Safe Helpline to receive sexual assault reports in both unrestricted and restricted forms and to provide support to victims making such reports.
“This NDAA does more to reform the military justice system and protect survivors of sexual assault than any bill in the last half century. It takes sexual assault and other crimes entirely outside the chain of command and shifts prosecutorial authority from commanders to independent prosecutors,” noted Reed.
Shipbuilding & Next Generation Submarines
Senator Reed also helped provide key funding for the Navy’s modernization efforts – including submarine construction. The bill authorizes funding for the procurement of 13 new ships, including two Virginia-class submarines, and supporting a second year of construction on the Columbia-class submarine program. Reed also helped authorize $900 million in research and development funding for future submarine capabilities and $330 million to fund the expansion and modernization of the submarine industrial base.
“We are ramping up production of next generation submarines, which are a vital part of America’s nuclear triad and are essential for power projection, deterrence, intelligence, and sea control. Thousands of Rhode Islanders build the backbones of these boats and provide our nation with a strategic, technological advantage. This defense bill will result in more good-paying jobs coming to Rhode Island for years to come. It invests in our workforce development pipeline to get people the right training for in-demand jobs building submarines and a stronger Navy,” said Reed.
To that end, the NDAA authorizes $20 million to support the submarine construction workforce training pipeline, which helps provide certainty and stability for the nation’s supply chain and industrial base workforce to move forward with critical programs and acquisitions and keep employees on the job. It also authorizes $8.3 million for four construction projects at NUWC to build new laboratories: $4 million for a Next Generation Secure Submarine Platform Facility (P&D); $1.7 million for a Consolidated RDT&E Systems Facility (P&D); $1.4 million for a Submarine Payloads Integration Laboratory (P&D); and $1.2 million for a Next Generation Torpedo Integration Lab (P&D).
Deterrence and Advanced Technologies
The bill includes tools and initiatives to more effectively compete with China and Russia, combat transnational threats, and strengthen U.S. alliances with key partners, including NATO and Israel, to help safeguard the nation. Notably, it reauthorizes the Pacific Deterrence Initiative to better focus Department of Defense investments on exercises with allies and partners, joint and enabling capabilities, and improved force posture in the region and identifies approximately $7.1 billion in the bill for such purposes. It also authorizes $4 billion for European Deterrence Initiative priorities, including continued investments in infrastructure and capabilities across the theater, enhanced exercises with allies and partners, and increased force presence. Additionally, it authorizes $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to support continued training, equipment, and advisory efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities.
The bill authorizes an increase of more than $3 billion in funds available for science and technology programs that fund cutting-edge research and prototyping activities at universities, small businesses, defense labs, and industry, including in critical areas such as artificial intelligence, microelectronics, advanced materials, 5G, and biotechnology. It authorizes an increase of nearly $1 billion in funding for DARPA’s high-risk, high-payoff research, including in areas such as quantum computing.
The bill includes provisions to support small businesses and the defense industrial base, particularly in Rhode Island, including: requiring the Pentagon to identify the most-promising technologies being developed under the Small Business Innovation Research program; renewing, expanding, and improving oversight to increase domestic content in critical defense acquisition programs; supporting textile manufacturers by restricting the procurement of PPE from China, and taking steps to stabilize the demand for this equipment; and establishing pilot programs that will streamline efforts to move promising technologies from research programs into procurement and commercialization.
Lessons from Afghanistan
The bill directs the establishment of an independent commission to examine U.S. government failures over two decades of conflict in Afghanistan. It also prohibits the transfer of DOD funds and resources to the Taliban.
Improving Military Installation Climate Resilience and DOD’s Environmental Impact
The bill includes many initiatives to address PFAS cleanup efforts, improve climate resilience of military installations, and advance energy efficiency goals. Some highlights include: authorizing more than $500 million for PFAS cleanup across the services; extending the ongoing CDC study of human health effects from PFAS in drinking water sources for another two years; requires each military department to assess the vulnerability of all installations and National Guard facilities to the current and projected impacts of climate change; and requiring the Defense Department to take appropriate actions to increase the use of emission-free and net-zero-emission energy technologies in its operations, program, projects, and activities.
Combating Directed Energy Attacks that Target U.S. Government Personnel
In an effort to address the issue of directed energy attacks, sometimes referred to as “anomalous health incidents,” or in the news as “Havana Syndrome,” the bill requires the President to appoint a senior official to lead a whole-of-government effort to address these incidents. The bill also creates a Department of Defense cross-functional team to coordinate the Pentagon’s response to these incidents. The bill aims to address national security challenges posed by the health incidents and ensure that those who have suffered from the incidents receive timely, high-quality medical care.
A number of other key initiatives Senator Reed championed are included in the bill. A comprehensive summary can be found here: Summary FY22 NDAA. Several Rhode Island-related projects and priorities are also included in this bipartisan defense legislation now set to be considered by the Senate, such as:
- $6.55 billion to fully support construction of two Virginia-class submarines, including $200 million for submarine industrial base expansion;
- $4.78 billion to fully support the Columbia-class (Ohio-class Replacement) Program, including an additional $130 million to support stability in the submarine industrial base;
- Nearly $100 million for Navy applied research on undersea warfare technologies, led by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, including $16.5 million to support Navy and academia submarine partnerships, of which the University of Rhode Island has been a leader.
- Nearly $2.6 billion for university research activities, including $10 million for the Defense Established Programs to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR), which ensures Rhode Island universities may compete to perform cutting-edge basic research and partner with defense labs;
- $20 million for workforce and training initiatives to support the production of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine and the continued construction of the Virginia-class submarine;
- $50 million in additional funding for planning and design of Navy lab modernization construction projects, to include $8.3 million for four projects at NUWC.
- $50 million in supplemental Impact Aid, and $20 million in Impact Aid for schools with military dependent children with severe disabilities.
Additionally, the bill establishes a working group on training to enhance service member and DOD employee awareness of and defenses against foreign malign influence campaigns and boost information literacy.
This marks the 61st straight year that the annual NDAA has been completed.
The NDAA is an authorization bill and funds must be appropriated. Senator Reed is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and serves on that panel’s Defense Subcommittee.