December 14th, 2023

By News Report


WASHINGTON, D.C. | Local lawmakers are applauding approval of the $886 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Senate passed the NDAA Wednesday by a vote of 87-13 and the House followed suit Thursday, Dec. 14.

After months of negotiations, the critical 3,000-plus page legislation directing how federal funds can be spent on defense-related programs then headed to President Biden to be signed into law.

After voting to pass the NDAA in the House Thursday, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and NDAA conferee, said “As the leading advocate for Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division, I proudly voted to pass the FY24 national defense bill to secure numerous provisions for the Fort Drum Community and our brave Servicemembers nationwide. This year’s national defense bill increases our military readiness, equips our troops, pushes back against woke ideology in our military, and provides robust support for Servicemembers and their families.”

“As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have diligently worked over the past year to bring the defense priorities of Upstate New York and the North Country to the highest levels. I am proud to have crafted, conferenced, and passed a defense bill that ensures Fort Drum soldiers are eligible for Cold Weather location assignment pay, fully equips the 10th MTN Division with cutting-edge technology, and recognizes the vast potential of the unique Upstate New York environment for training our military personnel. While our country faces numerous threats from Communist China, Russia, and Iran, we must bolster our national defense and support our Servicemembers because peace can only be achieved through strength.”

Stefanik said the FY2024 NDAA authorizes $886.3 billion for national defense, an increase of $28 billion from FY 2023, and saves the American taxpayer $37 billion while also authorizing funding for over $2 billion in service chief and combatant commander priorities left unfunded by the Biden Budget.

After its passage in the House, the North Country Chamber of Commerce quickly welcomed provisions that it advocated for inclusion.

“In our Washington meetings in May and in other regular outreach, we sought provisions that would support continued development by BETA Technologies, including renewed funding for the U.S. Air Force Agility Prime Program, important to BETA and to our future defense capabilities, and requirement of a timely report to Congress by DOD on plans for eVTOL acquisition and deployment,” says Chamber President Garry Douglas. “Thanks to Congresswoman Elise Stefanik who obtained inclusion in the House bill and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand’s support in the Senate, both provisions are in the act, as are provisions in support of strategic minerals which are linked to future Quebec-New York economic opportunities.”

Congresswoman Stefanik said the following provisions, supported by her continued advocacy, were included in the FY24 NDAA:

Strengthening Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division

-Authorizes robust funding for Missile Defense Agency planning and design activities to continue work on a third missile defense interceptor site at Fort Drum.

-Allows Fort Drum to be eligible for Cold Weather location assignment pay.

-Requires an examination on the Army’s plan to field unmanned aircraft systems to light infantry units like the 10th Mountain Division.

-Secured funding for the radio systems used by first responders to protect families and improve on-base security.

-Secures robust funding for 10th Mountain Division Engineer’s land surveying equipment designed to perform reconnaissance, obstacle reporting, and construction management.

-Requires DoD to streamline approval processes for Army units to conduct training in a contested electromagnetic spectrum.

-Permanently increases the minor military construction threshold to give the services greater flexibility to build out necessary infrastructure.

Upstate New York and North Country wins

-Authorizes robust funding for Air Force Research Lab – Rome’s annual Future Flag testing and evaluation exercise, conducted in Lewis, N.Y.

-Supports critical funding for electric vertical takeoff and lift aircraft to continue to be developed by the U.S. Air Force, including those in development in Plattsburgh.

-Secures funding for DoD Impact Aid schools including Indian River and Carthage Schools.

-Requires the DoD to analyze how the unique environment of Upstate New York and the North Country can be utilized for training our military personnel in multi-domain operations in contested electromagnetic spectrum environments.

-Authorizes funding for Army National Guard Heavy Dump Truck which enables the New York Army National Guard’s ability to conduct international and state-driven missions, such as natural disaster relief and recovery.

Supporting Servicemembers and Families

-Codifies a Servicemember Parents’ Bill of Rights to ensure Servicemembers have the right to be involved in their children’s education.

-Supports a 5.2 percent increase in Servicemember basic pay, the largest pay raise in over 20 years.

-Authorizes the Secretary of Defense to pay junior enlisted members a monthly bonus to counteract the effects of Biden’s record-high inflation.

-Opens commissary and recreational facility access to remarried Gold Star Spouses.

-Requires DoD to publish and maintain a website of wait lists for childcare centers.

-Requires DoD to identify ways for local installations to expand childcare capacity by partnering with off-installation childcare providers.

-Requires DoD to identify ways to streamline the burdensome regulations placed on childcare facility employees, while upholding the current level quality of care provided.

-Authorizes DoD to reduce out-of-pocket childcare expenses for military families.

-Requires the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to examine the personnel policies throughout DoDEA.

-Allows military spouses to defer their student loans when their spouse has a change of duty location.

-Requires Military Service Academies to consider standardized test scores on their applications.

Confronting the CCP and Foreign Adversaries

-Accelerates the deployment of advanced radars to track high-altitude balloons and other CCP threats to our homeland.

-Permanently authorizes U.S. Special Operations Command’s Irregular Warfare authorities to ensure our partners and allies can resist aggression by adversaries like Russia and China.

-Closes loopholes that enable DoD funds to go to universities operating CCP fronts like Confucius Institutes.

-Extends the authority for US-Israel anti-tunneling cooperation.

-Continues to support critical US-Israel missile defense cooperation.

-Requires a briefing on how the DoD is measuring regional sentiment using commercially available technology to better inform military leaders.

-Briefing on technology transfers and technical assistance from the PRC to Iran that further their ICBM capabilities, and how this partnership puts our homeland at risk.

-Requires DoD to add Chinese and Russian universities that partner with their countries’ militaries or intelligence services to a list of foreign universities engaged in malign activities.

-Blocks DoD research and development funding from going to universities in the U.S. that maintain a partnership with foreign universities in adversarial countries that provide adversarial militaries or intelligence services with support, and other malign activities.

Keeping Pace with Emerging Technologies in the 21st Century

-Refocuses the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering on integrating commercial technology into DoD requirements.

-Requires a briefing on current gaps in how the National Guard is using its resources to address both homeland defense and emerging threats.

-Requires a brief on how counter-unmanned aircraft capabilities are being integrated with current systems to enhance effectiveness and reduce cost.

-Requires a report on the plan to acquire and field electric vertical take-off and landing technologies that support mobility, and enable agile, lower-cost, distributed logistics.

Strengthening National Defense

-Provides DoD with multi-year procurement for domestically produced critical minerals and requires DoD to assess ways to increase stockpiles of critical minerals.

-Requires a plan to enhance inspection procedures for the prepositioned stockpiles to identify deficiencies and ensure they are mission capable.

-Requires a DoD briefing on the benefits of multi-year procurement authority for nuclear-grade graphite to enhance that supply chain’s viability.