Rosen Celebrates Senate Passage of FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act Providing Pay Raise for Servicemembers, End to Military Widow’s Tax

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) released the following statement celebrating the Senate’s 86-8 passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, which she proudly voted for, as well as highlighting the many legislative victories included within the NDAA, including a 3.1% pay raise for servicemembers and a repeal of the military widow’s tax. 
“I’m glad to see both Democrats and Republicans come to the table with a bipartisan defense authorization bill that includes a 3.1% pay raise for members of our military, a long-overdue repeal of the Military Widow’s Tax, paid parental leave for federal employees, and robust funding for Nevada’s military installations,” said Senator Rosen. “It also rejects defense nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain and includes a bipartisan provision I backed to help veterans exposed to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as my amendment to ensure that the National Guard and U.S. Northern Command can meet current homeland defense and security needs. 

“Overall this is a great bill for Nevada, the home of the fighter pilot for both the Air Force and Navy, the largest remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) mission for the Air Force, and the only place in the country where subcritical experiments are conducted to verify the viability of our nuclear stockpile.” Senator Rosen continued. “I will continue to work across the aisle to support our men in women in uniform and enhance our national security.”

BACKGROUND: The NDAA authorizes a total of $738 billion for fiscal 2020 for defense programs, the Energy Department, and other agencies. It provides a 3.1 percent pay raise for servicemembers, the largest increase in a decade. The legislation also phases out over three years the widow’s tax, which had reduced military survivor benefits. Senator Rosen is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act of 2019 (S.622) and joined her colleagues in writing to NDAA conferees urging them to include the repeal in a final NDAA package.

This Year’s NDAA includes Senator Rosen’s amendment to require an updated report on the capacity of the National Guard and U.S. Northern Command to meet current homeland defense and security threats to our country. The NDAA also includes the text of the Rosen co-sponsored Burn Pits Accountability Act, bipartisan legislation that would require the Department of Defense to evaluate the exposure to open burn pits and toxic airborne chemicals to servicemembers and veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The FY 2020 NDAA also:

•    Guarantees twelve weeks of paid parental leave for all federal employees,
•    Authorizes $65.2 million for military construction projects at Nellis AFB, 
•    Includes a provision requiring the Secretary of Defense to establish a new 5G information communications technology research and development program and create a secure 5G wireless network at the Nevada Test and Training Range to serve as a Major Range and Test Facility Base for fifth-generation wireless networking.
•    Includes bipartisan Rosen-backed provisions to sanction the Assad regime in Syria and provide families of the victims of the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut a means to collect financial judgements against Iran for its role in the terrorist attack.