NDAA for FY22 Provides Pay Raise for Troops, Authorizes $80 Million for MQ-9 Aircraft, Enhances Housing Support for Junior Enlisted Troops, Establishes Long-Term Funding Support for the Nevada National Security Site, & $0 for Yucca Mountain
The Annual Defense Policy Package Also Includes Five of Senator Rosen’s Bipartisan Bills to Strengthen U.S. Cybersecurity, Enhance the U.S.-Israel Relationship, Disclose Testing for Toxic PFAS Chemicals, Create Opportunities for Reserve Component Soldiers, and Invest in AI Technologies
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) voted to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (NDAA) and praised its passage with strong bipartisan support in the Senate. The $768.2 billion NDAA will deliver a 2.7% pay raise for our troops, increase parental leave to 12 weeks for all active duty servicemembers, and strengthen our national security. Senator Rosen helped shape the annual defense policy legislation as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
This year’s package includes five of Senator Rosen’s bipartisan bills — two pieces of legislation to enhance U.S. cybersecurity capabilities, her bill to require disclosure of testing for toxic PFAS chemicals at or near military installations like Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases, her legislation to strengthen America’s artificial intelligence capabilities, and her bill to reduce barriers for Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers seeking active duty opportunities. The United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2021, the CISA Cyber Exercise Act, the Military PFAS Testing Disclosure Act, the Reservists Opportunity Act, and the Advancing American AI Innovation Act were all introduced by Senator Rosen and included in the final NDAA passed by the House and Senate.
The NDAA also includes key priorities for Nevada defense installations and servicemembers. The package authorizes $80 million for four MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft — integral to Creech Air Force Base — which Senator Rosen fought for in the Senate Armed Services Committee markup after the original legislation and President Biden’s proposed budget failed to authorize funding for MQ-9 aircraft. The NDAA also authorizes $16.4 million for two new military construction projects at Creech Air Force Base that Senator Rosen included as one of her Congressionally Directed Spending requests during the appropriations process. It also authorizes $135 million for a major ongoing construction project at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) to safely verify the reliability of our nation’s nuclear stockpile. Additionally, the bill includes $0 for the storage of defense nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.
Finally, the NDAA includes provisions Senator Rosen wrote and added to the bill in the Senate Armed Services Committee to help junior enlisted troops with housing costs, based on the Senator’s conversations with Airmen during recent visits to Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases. Additionally, it provides Senator Rosen’s provision to support a long-term funding approach for the NNSS. Those provisions took effect upon the Senate Armed Services Committee’s passage of the NDAA in July.
“This year’s defense bill delivers a pay raise and expanded parental leave for our troops, includes important provisions for Nevada’s military interests, and incorporates my bipartisan bills to bolster America’s cybersecurity and AI capabilities, provide more opportunities for Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers, and require the disclosure of any testing for toxic chemicals at or near military installations,” said Senator Rosen. “This bipartisan package accomplishes so much to support our state’s servicemembers and defense installations while addressing pressing threats to our national security. I will continue working across party lines with my colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee to protect our nation, support our troops, and fight for Nevada’s priorities.”
Key Nevada priorities in the FY22 NDAA include:
- Authorizes $80 million for four MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft. The MQ-9 is central to the mission at Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base and critical to supporting our troops overseas for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance purposes. The original base NDAA bill – like President Biden’s FY22 Budget – did not authorize any funding for the MQ-9. Senator Rosen secured this authorization of funding in the Senate Armed Services Committee.
- Authorizes $16.4 million for projects at Creech Air Force Base. The FY22 NDAA authorizes $14.2 million to construct a Mission Support Facility at Creech, along with $2.2 million to construct a Warrior Fitness Training Center. Earlier this year, Senator Rosen submitted these two projects to the Senate Appropriations Committee as Congressionally Directed Spending requests.
- Authorizes $135 million for a major ongoing construction project at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) to safely verify the reliability of our nation’s nuclear stockpile. The NDAA authorizes $135 million for the ongoing construction project to host the Advanced Sources and Detectors Scorpius machine at NNSS’s U1a facility – an underground laboratory for subcritical experiments where scientists safely verify the reliability of our nuclear stockpile without having to detonate a weapon. NNSS is the only facility in the country where this is done. The Enhanced Capabilities for Subcritical Experiments program ensures that Nevada never again has to return to the days of explosive nuclear testing. When completed in 2025, U1a and NNSS will host the most capable weapons radiographic system in the world.
- Long-term funding support for the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). Despite being a facility of national importance, and larger than all other National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) sites combined, NNSS does not have a base budget of funding that they can rely on for future years planning for infrastructure projects. To address this, the NDAA contains a provision Senator Rosen authored – and which took effect when the Senate’s NDAA was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee in July – which requires the NNSA Administrator to report to Congress on their plan for a long-term, predictable funding strategy for NNSS so that the Site can plan accordingly to maintain a healthy workforce and continue to be a center of excellence for the nation. The NDAA also raises the NNSA minor construction threshold from $20 million to $25 million, which will help NNSS build and repair aging infrastructure.
- Housing cost assistance for servicemembers. The NDAA includes a report provision from Senator Rosen holding the Pentagon accountable for not yet utilizing existing authorities to financially assist our most junior servicemembers in need of support when transitioning off base to private housing. Senator Rosen’s amendment in the Senate Armed Services Committee — which took effect when the committee passed its version of the NDAA in July — requires the Secretary of Defense to brief Congress on DoD’s plan to provide partial dislocation allowance payments to junior enlisted troops who are forced out of military-provided housing due to shortages and have to incur moving costs before they are eligible to receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).
- Senator Rosen recently visited Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases, where Airmen talked to her about this challenge and the need to change how BAH formulas are calculated. As it currently stands, servicemembers – like the Airmen stationed at Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases – receive BAH for the cost of living of those areas, rather than where they actually live. Most Creech Airmen, for instance, live in Las Vegas, which has a higher cost of living than the Indian Springs BAH they receive. The Senate Armed Services Committee-passed NDAA includes a requirement for the DoD to brief Congress on how they determine BAH formulas and how to better address these discrepancies.
- No funding for Yucca Mountain. Thanks to Senator Rosen’s efforts, this year’s NDAA once again does not include any funding authorization for defense nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain.
Senator Rosen’s bipartisan bills included in the FY22 NDAA:
- Section 1551: The United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation Senator Rosen introduced with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Todd Young (R-IN) establishing a new grant program at the Department of Homeland Security to enhance cooperative research and development between the U.S. and Israel on cybersecurity. Senator Rosen filed this legislation as a bipartisan amendment to the NDAA, which was later included in the bill.
- Section 1547: The CISA Cyber Exercise Act, bipartisan legislation Senator Rosen introduced with Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Angus King (I-ME), establishing a National Cyber Exercise Program at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Senator Rosen also filed this legislation as a bipartisan amendment to the NDAA.
- Section 513: The Reservist Opportunity Act, bipartisan legislation that Senator Rosen introduced with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) allowing Army National Guard and Reserve soldiers to securely access the Army’s Tour of Duty system, which serves as a military job board, from their personal devices. Currently, this portal is only accessible on Department of Defense devices, limiting the ability for reserve component soldiers to volunteer for career-enhancing active duty opportunities during the 28 days of the month when they are not physically present at their duty station. Senator Rosen also filed this legislation as a bipartisan amendment to the NDAA.
- Section 232: The Advancing American AI Innovation Act, bipartisan legislation Senator Rosen introduced with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to create a Department of Defense (DoD) pilot program establishing artificial intelligence (AI) data libraries relevant to the development of AI software and technology, ensuring private companies have access to accurate data so they can better meet DoD needs. Senator Rosen also filed this legislation as a bipartisan amendment to the NDAA.
- Section 345: The Military PFAS Testing Disclosure Act, bipartisan legislation Senator Rosen introduced with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) requiring that DoD publicly disclose the results of any PFAS testing conducted on or at areas surrounding military installations, in order to inform servicemembers and military families of the potential risk of exposure to this hazardous substance. Both Creech and Nellis Air Force Bases have confirmed PFAS-contaminated groundwater. Last year, Senator Rosen led a letter to the Air Force requesting information about their investigation of PFAS levels in groundwater wells and Nellis and also raised the issue in a meeting with the then-Acting Secretary of the Air Force.
Additional Rosen-backed provisions in the FY22 NDAA include:
- Support for Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East, through authorization to research, develop, and procure cooperative missile defense programs, including the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system, David’s Sling Weapon System, and Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor Program. Senator Rosen strongly supported these provisions in her NDAA request to the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year.
- A pilot program to test new software to track emissions at certain military installations, based on a bipartisan amendment Senator Rosen filed to the NDAA with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
- A provision expressing the sense of Congress that the U.S. Government should appropriately compensate and recognize individuals affected by uranium mining and nuclear testing, including individuals in Nevada, New Mexico, and other Western States. This provision is based on an amendment co-sponsored by Senator Rosen.
- The Military Hunger Prevention Act, bipartisan legislation Senator Rosen helped introduce to support active-duty military families experiencing food insecurity by creating a basic needs allowance to help put food on the table.
- The Afghanistan War Commission Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation Senator Rosen helped introduce to establish a nonpartisan, independent commission to examine every aspect of the war in Afghanistan and produce a public and unclassified report for the American people with lessons learned. Senator Rosen also co-sponsored an amendment to the NDAA establishing this commission.
- Major components of the Military Justice Improvement And Increasing Prevention Act – bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and co-sponsored by Senator Rosen – to professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes, including sexual assault, by moving the decision to prosecute from the chain of command to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors.