House Passes Transformational Defense Bill with Kiggans’ Support

WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2670, the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The FY24 NDAA authorizes funding for the military through September 30, 2024. This bipartisan legislation, which includes the largest pay raise for troops in over 20 years and multiple provisions benefitting servicemembers in Hampton Roads, was passed by the Senate on December 13th and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Prior to its passage, Congresswoman Kiggans spoke about the important of the FY24 NDAA on the House floor. You can view her remarks here.

“I came to Congress on a mission to restore strength in our military, and this bill takes a big step toward achieving that goal,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “At a time when our great nation is facing threats from every corner of the globe, this critical legislation refocuses the Department of Defense on our servicemembers, our warfighting capabilities, and our global deterrence initiatives. I’m very pleased that members on both sides of the aisle recognize these areas are – and always will be – where we need to focus.”

“I’m incredibly proud to have secured several wins in this year’s NDAA that will directly benefit the servicemembers and military families in Hampton Roads, across the country, and around the world,” continued Congresswoman Kiggans. “My provisions in this bill will positively impact our servicemembers’ quality-of-life, increase access to mental healthcare, and explore improvements to our nation’s shipbuilding and ship repair capabilities. As a third-generation veteran, military spouse, and mother to children who serve, I will always be the loudest voice for our military men and women in Congress!”

“Since day one, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans has fought to improve the quality of life for our servicemembers and their families,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (AL-03) said. “She is a proven leader who has worked tirelessly to ensure the FY24 NDAA boosts our national defense and puts our servicemembers first.” 

BACKGROUND

The FY24 NDAA features record investments in servicemember quality of life initiatives, war-fighting capability, and global projection power. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congresswoman Kiggans worked on this important legislation for months and secured a number of beneficial provisions in the bill, including three pieces of her signature Sailor Standard of Care Act. Congresswoman Kiggans introduced this bill to improve sailor mental health following a number of suicides at military facilities in Hampton Roads.

  • Requiring the Secretary of the Navy to provide the committee a briefing on the feasibility of providing additional mental health resources to units with greater than 15 limited duty sailors and on the feasibility of mandatory mental health screenings for limited duty sailors;
  • Requiring the Secretary of the Navy to provide a briefing to the committee on the average number of days it takes for the Department of the Navy to separate with limited duty sailors after it is determined the sailors are medically disqualified and are to be medically separated, and;
  • Requiring the Secretary of the Navy to provide a briefing to the committee on its recommended standard operating procedures for responding to multiple suicides in a command.

The Congresswoman also secured measures to:

  • Direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to provide a report on the feasibility of expanding TRICARE for Life to include a benefit for the SilverSneakers Program, mimicking the existing benefit included under Medicare Advantage. If enacted, this program would allow enrollees to access nearly 14,000 recreation centers, churches, senior communities, and other neighborhood locations across the nation. As a geriatric Nurse Practitioner, Congresswoman Kiggans knows how important an active lifestyle is to the health and wellbeing of older Americans;
  • Direct the Secretary of Defense to provide a report to the committee on the status of privatized housing communities designated solely for unaccompanied servicemembers that currently exist or are planned in each service. As all services are currently facing housing challenges for younger unaccompanied servicemembers, this amendment will push the Secretary of Defense to further study alternative solutions for unaccompanied housing that are being explored by various services in an effort to guide potential future enterprise-wide policy;
  • Authorize a feasibility study for the implementation of allowing an adult individual who is the surviving child or parent of a deceased servicemember, and has received a Gold Star Lapel Button or Next of Kin Deceased Personnel Lapel Button, access to use commissary stores and MWR retail facilities, and;
  • Authorize the Secretary of Defense to carry out a pilot program that uses thermal destruction to dispose of PFAS materials.

Additionally, funding the following wins that Congresswoman Kiggans scored in H.R. 4366, The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, are included in the FY24 NDAA:

  • $57,000,000 for Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Story’s Child Development Center;
  • $61,000,000 for Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Story’s U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) SDVT2 Operations Support Facility;
  • $23,680,000 for Dam Neck Annex’s Maritime Surveillance System Facility;
  • $47,200,000 for Naval Station Norfolk’s Child Development Center;
  • $99,077,000 for Naval Station Norfolk’s Submarine Pier 3;
  • $81,082,000 for Naval Station Norfolk’s Dry Dock Saltwater System for CVN-78, and;
  • $11,495,000 for Naval Station Norfolk’s MQ-25 Aircraft Laydown Facilities.

Other important measures included in the FY24 NDAA include:

  • A 5.2% increase in basic pay, the largest pay raise in over 20 years;
  • A monthly bonus for junior enlisted members to counter the effects of inflation;
  • $280 million for the construction of new schools for military children, and an additional $153 million over the President’s budget request for the construction of new childcare centers;
  • Improved access to mental health services and treatment options for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries;
  • A Parents’ Bill of Rights at DoD schools;
  • Extended authority for the transfer of weapons systems, as well as precision-guided munitions to Israel;
  • Prevention of the retirement of capabilities with remaining service life, including 4 battleships and additional F-22, KC-135, E-3, and C-130 aircraft;
  • Full funding for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative;
  • The implementation of the AUKUS agreement;
  • A grant program to expand capacity of shipyards;
  • Increased funding for military construction and logistics capabilities necessary in the Indo-Pacific, and;
  • A Special Inspector General to oversee and monitor security assistance going to Ukraine.

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