U.S. Senate Passes National Defense Authorization Act

The bill has several provisions that will impact North Dakota’s Air Force Bases that are outlined in detail below.  Both Senator Hoeven and Senator Heitkamp issued news releases on the passage of the bill.

 

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Provisions in the Bill

From Senator Hoeven’s Office:

  • Maintain ICBM Silos: Requires that the Administration maintain all 450 of the nation’s current intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) silos in a “warm status” through 2021. Hoeven wrote the leaders of the Armed Services Committees to keep the provision in the final version of the bill as part of his efforts to maintain a strong ICBM force at MAFB and throughout the country. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate ICBM Coalition, Hoeven authored a provision in the fiscal year Fiscal Year 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill that blocks the administration from reducing the number of active silos containing Minuteman III ICBMs.
  • Sustain the Global Hawk Program: Authorizes the President’s request for the Global Hawk program for Fiscal Year 2015. Grand Forks Air Force Base hosts a Global Hawk mission.
  • Promotes Military Base Partnerships: Encourages military bases to enter into agreements with local governments to develop public-private partnerships. Hoeven has worked to bring Northrop Grumman, the County of Grand Forks and the Grand Forks Air Force Base together to create Grand Sky, a cutting-edge unmanned aerial systems research park on the base.
  • Authorize Army Guard Shop: Authorizes $10.8 million for an Army Guard Vehicle Maintenance Shop in Valley City, ND.
  • Block Base Closures: Rejects the Administration’s proposed new round of base closures.

Additionally, the NDAA provides key support for national defense including:

  • Syria Train and Equip program: Extends the Syria train and equip program (originally authorized by the continuing resolution passed in September) through 2016. Does not authorize specific funds for the Syria program.
  • Counter ISIL Operations: The NDAA meets the President’s request to authorize $5.1 billion for US military activities to counter ISIL, to include training and equipping Iraqi forces.
  • Cruise missile: Requires a new nuclear-tipped cruise missile by 2025 or 2026 and rejects a Pentagon proposal to delay the program until 2027.
  • Guantanamo Bay prison: Bars the administration from closing the facility.

From Senator Heitkamp’s office:

  • Promotes private-public partnerships with military bases. The bill makes it easier for military bases to enter into agreements with local governments, fostering the development of public-private partnerships. North Dakota recently saw the value of such an agreement, as Northrop Grumman formally signed a Letter of Intent to become a tenant at the Grand Sky business and technology park, helping to advance the Enhanced Use Lease project and agreement between Grand Forks Air Force Base, Grand Forks County, and Northrop Grumman.
  • Helps prevent sexual assault in the military and provide support to service members. The bill will provide more support for servicemembers, their families, and civilian Department of Defense employees’ quality of life through more resources, policies, and benefits. Part of this effort is made through provisions to improve prevention and response to cases of sexual assault in the military, an issue on which Heitkamp has been vocal since last fall. New provisions provide additional rights to victims and survivors, hold commanding officers more accountable, and help create a safer environment for survivors to come forward.
  • Supports the improvement of North Dakota National Guard facilities. The bill provides authorization to construct a new North Dakota National Guard vehicle maintenance shop and a new vehicle storage facility in Valley City. The current facility is outdated, does not comply with various codes and standards, and no longer meets the needs of the Guard. The new facilities will help the Guard better meet maintenance repair requirements for its combat and tactical vehicles.
  • Speeds up oil and gas permitting on public lands. The legislation includes Heitkamp’s bill to reauthorize and make permanent the federal program tasked with expeditiously reviewing oil and gas permits on public lands, including those in North Dakota. Her bill, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Permit Processing Improvement Act, permanently extends the program that enables BLM to deal with a backlog of permit applications, which can last up to nine months in North Dakota for drilling permits for federal lands. It also helps expand services at existing federal permit offices, relocate or open new offices in areas with significant energy development and growth, and provide funding to hire new personnel.

Josh Wolsky

Editor and Publisher of TheMinotVoice, Developer of the #ForMinot Network,  Co-Host of #GoodTalk Minot, Advocate and Friend of the Souris River, Former City Alderman, and clearly -- all things #MakeMinot. Go ahead, don't wait for permission!

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