Critical Defense Bill Passes U.S. House with Kiggans’ Priorities

Jun 14, 2024
Armed Forces
Press

WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) released the below statement following the passage of H.R. 8070 the Servicemember Quality of Life Improvement and National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), FY25, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 217-199. The legislation authorizes critical U.S. defense systems, counters China’s growing aggression, modernizes our fighting force, and invests a historic $5 billion in quality of life improvements for servicemembers.

“As a former Navy helicopter pilot, Navy spouse, and now Navy mom, I am proud to support our men and women in uniform and be their voice in Congress,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “This commonsense legislation authorizes crucial defense programs and significantly enhances our servicemembers’ quality of life through housing, healthcare, and childcare improvements. It’s also a game-changer when it comes to compensation, boosting pay for our junior enlisted members by 19.5% while also providing a FY25 4.5% pay increase across all services. 

“At a time when our nation is facing complex threats across the globe, this bill ensures we are both supporting our military community here at home and giving our warfighters the capabilities they need to succeed in any future conflict. Importantly, this legislation authorizes $806.8 million for 14 military construction projects in Virginia, including $54.8 million for military construction projects in Hampton Roads. It also provides an additional $1 billion to maintain the supply chain for a 2nd Virginia Class submarine, which is critical to restoring American deterrence. 

“I look forward to working with our colleagues in the Senate to get this bill across the finish line so we can stay ahead of our adversaries and prioritize the servicemembers and their families who sacrifice so much to protect our great country.”

Background

The FY25 NDAA, which authorizes a total of $895 billion for national defense discretionary programs, would invest a historic $5 billion in improvements to servicemembers’ quality of life, help deter China’s aggression, keep the F-35 program accountable by prioritizing software advancement, and provide an additional $1 billion to maintain the supply chain for a 2nd Virginia Class submarine. Congresswoman Kiggans also secured multiple provisions directly benefiting Hampton Roads in the FY25 NDAA, which you can read more here.  

Additionally, Congresswoman Kiggans was selected to serve on the House Armed Services Committee’s Quality of Life Panel, which was tasked with addressing issues relating to compensation, child care, housing, spouse support programs, and healthcare. In April, the Panel issued a report in with 31 recommendations to improve the lives of military families that laid the foundation for H.R. 8070.

Highlights of the legislation include but are not limited to:

Improving our Servicemembers Quality of Life

  • Servicemember Compensation
  • Increases basic pay for junior enlisted servicemembers by 19.5%.
  • Ensures the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) covers 100% of the calculated rate for the military housing area and reduce errors in BAH calculations.
  • Makes the Basic Needs Allowance available to servicemembers with dependents with a gross household income less than 200% of federal poverty guidelines.
  • Servicemember Housing
  • Requires the President’s budget to identify the cost to fully fund the Facilities, Sustainment, Restoration, and Modernization (FSRM) account and reduce the backlog of required maintenance. 
  • Pursues public-private partnerships to build new and renovate existing unaccompanied housing.
  • Requires DoD to designate personnel responsible for the oversight of unaccompanied housing.
  • Explores providing free wireless internet access to servicemembers in all unaccompanied housing facilities.
  • Access to Healthcare
  • Requires the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to submit a report on providing access to care data for all healthcare services available at each Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) with inpatient capabilities.
  • Expands access to specialty providers
  • Reevaluates hiring and retention authorities available for civilian medical providers.
  • Access to Childcare
  • Fully funds childcare fee assistance programs to eliminate fee assistance wait lists for eligible families.
  • Amends the law to ensure pay for childcare staff at DoD childcare centers is competitive with private industry.
  • Implements additional benefits for childcare providers, including requiring all military services to provide free childcare to the first child of a childcare provider in a DoD Child Development Program and authorize the services to cover up to 100% of childcare fees for any additional children.
  • Support for Military Spouses
  • Permanently authorizes the Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot which provides employment support to military spouses through a paid fellowship with employers across various industries.
  • Permanently grants authority to DoD to make transferring professional licenses between states easier for military spouses. 
  • Expands eligibility for Department of Defense Child Development Programs – both on and off-installation – for unemployed military spouses who are actively seeking employment.

Deterring China

  • Strengthening Seapower
  • Keeps the acquisition of new Virginia-class attack submarines on track by reversing President Biden’s budget request and supplementing the acquisition of a second Virginia-class. 
  • Fully funds the construction of new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines.
  • Fully funds public shipyard modernization to improve Naval fleet readiness.
  • Rejects President Biden’s efforts to cut the number of cruisers.
  • Nuclear Deterrence
  • Fully funds the modernization of our aging nuclear triad and communications architecture.
  • Increases funding to continue development of the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N).
  • Increases funding to restore nuclear weapons production capacity.
  • Preventing CCP Espionage
  • Protects laboratories that test U.S. military equipment from Chinese espionage.
  • Enhances the Army’s ability to identify and arrest spies in its ranks.
  • Removes China from the defense supply chain. 
  • Sustaining the Fight
  • Builds the logistics infrastructure needed to support prolonged military deployment across the Indo-Pacific.
  • Authorizes essential military construction projects to support and defend our servicemembers and projection forces.
  • Fully funds military exercises and readiness initiatives in the Indo-Pacific.

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