Ernst comments on passage of National Defense Authorization Act

Joni Ernst -- CROPPEDFrom Press Release


U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) released the following statement after passage of the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation will now head to conference between the House and the Senate.

“The bipartisan FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act prioritizes what is needed, providing our men and women with the necessary reforms and resources to protect our national security while eliminating wasteful and unnecessary spending.

“It is critical that we uphold our commitment to all service members, veterans and their families. The NDAA achieves this priority through several means, including improving the retirement system and benefits that are offered. Furthermore, we must also ensure that our service members receive the respect, protection and care they deserve which is why I have been working on and support additional reforms to strengthen policy for prevention, victim support and to stop retaliation in sexual assault cases. The FY 2016 NDAA incorporates further improvements that build on previously implemented provisions to ensure progress and the pursuit of swift justice. Any type of sexual assault or abuse hurts the victim as well as the integrity of a military unit and that’s a significant problem; one in which I take incredibly personally. I remain committed to more concerted efforts to prevent these attacks in the first place by working to change the culture.

“The NDAA also outlines the right priorities and puts our military on a strong path forward – ensuring our men and women have the tools they need, placing investment in new technologies amid a surging cyber warfare, fixing a broken acquisition system, and eliminating wasteful and unnecessary spending.

“Additionally, this NDAA includes several important amendments that I introduced and which were added during the Senate Armed Services Committee markup such as adding processes to ensure the VA is proactive in its outreach to veterans suffering from mental health issues; urging the Administration to provide the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga with the weapons and equipment needed to combat ISIS without delay; and ensuring that federal programs are efficient, on budget and on schedule, among many other critical measures.

“I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure NDAA becomes law, which is central to our national security and includes long overdue reforms to make the Department of Defense more effective and efficient.”

Summary of Ernst Amendments Included in NDAA:

  • An amendment to improve the Clay Hunt SAV Act pilot program by requiring outreach of the VA’s community-based veteran peer support network to our wounded, ill, and injured service members, as well as all service members within 180 days of leaving service.  This amendment will ensure the VA will be proactive, instead of reactive, with its outreach to those who have sacrificed for our nation on this important mental health pilot program.
  • An amendment, for the next five years, to provide new or current leases on Army Ammunition Plants, under the Army’s ARMS initiative, the option of extending a 25-year lease for an additional 25-year period.  This amendment will attract and retain greater investment, reduce facility sustainment cost, and provide a boost to some local communities – including the Des Moines County Iowa Army Ammunition Plant.
  • An amendment to require, within a year of enactment of this legislation, a joint report to the Senate Armed Services Committee from the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Navy, a plan to jointly modernize Army and Marine Corps small arms during a 15-year period. This amendment seeks to reduce duplication of efforts between the services, potentially realize cost savings in developing common small arms weapons and technology, and improve the committee’s oversight of the modernization strategies of both of the branches of service whose primary mission it is to fight and win our nation’s land conflicts.
  • An amendment to instill the sense of the Senate on the severity of the threat posed by ISIS to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq, including Iraqi Kurdistan, and the security and stability of the region and the world. It also shares the sense that the US, in coordination with our coalition partners, provide without undue delay—the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga with the heavy weapons and equipment, and training necessary to defeat ISIS. This amendment reminds us that ISIS’s leaders have stated they intend to target our Homeland and American citizens, and recognizes the long-term and successful partnership between Iraqi Kurds and the US military during the Iraq War.
  • An amendment to require the DoD to submit a report on ISIS, al-Nusra, and other terrorists group lines of communication through countries bordering Syria, and the threat posed by these lines of communication to the Homeland, our men and women in uniform, DoD installations, and diplomatic facilities located in Europe and Middle East.
  • An amendment, cosponsored by Senators Inhofe and Ayotte, to permanently establish the National Guard State Partnership Program and require the DoD Comptroller to submit a report on establishing a central fund to manage the program under DoD.
  • An amendment to bring much needed improvement to program and project management within the acquisition process at the DoD to ensure federal programs are efficient, on budget and on schedule. It takes the best practices from high performing organizations in the private sector and implements them at DoD, and it does without impacting current organizational structures or requiring additional resources. This amendment makes it possible for the first time to pinpoint and identify the appropriate personnel responsible for these programs by establishing standards and policies for DoD that are in accordance with nationally accredited standards and guidance for program and project management.