Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, spoke Thursday on the Senate floor about the need to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund our nation’s military.
The legislation includes several key provisions championed by Senator Tillis to improve the lives of our servicemembers and military families, and makes critical improvements to North Carolina’s military installations in the wake of Hurricane Florence. On a bipartisan basis, Senator Tillis and his subcommittee colleagues passed an across the board 3.1% pay raise for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.
Additionally, Senator Tillis worked to secure a number of reforms in the FY20 NDAA to take meaningful steps to address the serious issues with the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI).
Senator Tillis’ personnel subcommittee markup also addresses military sexual assault prevention and response, provides impact aid for local educational agencies, supports military spouse employment, and expands health care for military members and their families.
“I don’t understand why the House will not come to the table and pass something that we have successfully passed for every year of my life. This could be the first time in 58 years that we run the risk of not showing the respect that the men and women in the military deserve. To give them the authorities to be trained properly and to not have run the risk of working with old authorities that could diminish training, readiness, and capabilities. This is about these folks that have sworn to defend the Constitution and our freedom and we can’t take the time to bridge the gap and eliminate the other reasons that divide us and at least come together on something that for 58 years we’ve seen our way clear to passing and making progress for men and women in uniform for soldiers, sailors and marines and for their families.”
“I implore the Speaker and members of the House to come to terms and pass what we have done successfully for decades. We owe it to the men and women in uniform and we owe it to every American to understand what’s at stake if we all of a sudden slide for a year while our adversaries continue to gain ground. I hope that my colleagues will continue to come together and pass this bipartisan legislation. It’s within reach and absolutely an expectation of every member of Congress to show our men and women in uniform respect by doing our job.”
“I am Chairman of the Personnel Subcommittee because I wanted to focus on the business side of the Department of Defense, military families, and on soldiers health and safety. If we do not pass provisions that passed out of my subcommittee and in the National Defense Authorization Act that passed out of the Senate, here’s what’s at stake:
- A 3.1 % pay raise every soldier, sailor, and Marine could lose this year as a result of not gaining agreement with the Senate.
- We have a lot of provisions for military housing. I’m from North Carolina and we have two very large installations: Fort Bragg, the home of the global response force and Camp Lejeune, the home to a bigger population of Marines than any military installation in the world. They’re in housing today that needs to be upfitted. They’re in housing that quite honestly in many cases is unsafe. This National Defense Authorization Act makes progress to make sure that the families that are housed on bases are in safe, clean settings. And quite honestly, in some cases, they’re not today, which is why we got bipartisan support for the provisions we put into our subcommittee mark.
- Another thing that we’re working on, and it’s very difficult for someone who doesn’t come from a military background to understand, is how challenging it is for a spouse to get a job for the brief period of time that they may be in one military installation or another. This mark has provisions in it to make sure that military spouses get employment opportunities as quickly as possible and to cut through the red tape they are dealing with today.
- We’ve also taken major steps in trying to prevent military sexual assault. Bipartisan provisions in this bill are at risk because we can’t seem to get agreement with Speaker Pelosi’s House.
- In North Carolina, Camp Lejeune experienced over $3.5 billion in damage as a result of our most recent hurricane, and Fort Bragg is still trying to recover from a hurricane that happened about 2.5 years ago. There are authorizations in there to make sure that we can rebuild these facilities, military housing as well as offices and other training facilities, at Camp Lejeune that could slip another year if we allow the impasse between the House and the Senate to move forward.”