The importance of supporting our armed forces
| January 13, 2022 1:00 AM
The Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contains a number of provisions to provide resources to help Idaho’s women and men in uniform conduct their missions forcefully and efficiently. This includes funding for Mountain Home Air Force Base, Gowen Field and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). It provides critical tools necessary for boosting America’s national security both at home and abroad. Along with fellow U.S. Senator for Idaho Jim Risch, I was proud to support the FY 2022 NDAA when the U.S. Senate passed this important legislation by a vote of 88 to 11 before it was signed into law.
The FY 2022 NDAA includes specific authorized funds for various projects important to the state of Idaho, including:
• Cleanup and waste disposal at the Idaho National Laboratory;
• A water treatment plant at the Mountain Home Air Force Base to ensure a steady and reliable source of water at the base;
• A first-of-its-kind National Guard Readiness Center in Jerome;
• A new medical training facility at Gowen Field;
• Continuous composite 3D printing projects, in which Idaho industry plays a key role;
A Sense of Congress that the U.S. government should continue to appropriately compensate and recognize individuals affected by Cold-War era above-ground nuclear testing, often referred to as “downwinders.”
The “downwinders” provisions are part of ongoing efforts to extend and expand Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) eligibility to those in Idaho and other states who have suffered from cancers related to fallout from above-ground nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War period of the 1950s and 1960s. I have introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) to expand the current RECA program to provide compensation for all deserving “downwinder” victims, and continue to work toward enactment of this legislation to get it done.
The FY 2022 NDAA increases authorized defense funding, provides U.S. troops with a pay raise and prioritizes military family readiness by including support for spousal employment. Specifically, the law supports a 2.7 percent pay raise for both military service members and the U.S. Department of Defense civilian workforce. It extends military recruitment and retention tools and provides for the improvement of service member family housing. It funds new ships, submarines, projection forces, hypersonics, space systems and other important technologies. Republicans were also successful in preventing progressive lawmakers from using the NDAA to advance their far-left social agenda and further their efforts for D.C. statehood.
The law supports addressing ongoing foreign concerns. It contains provisions to help address China’s encroaching aggression in the Indo-Pacific region; reinforces Afghanistan accountability; requires assessments of Iran sanctions; extends support of U.S. law enforcement counter-narcotic and counter-transnational crime efforts; and more.
Providing for our national defense is one of Congress’s most critical jobs delineated in our Constitution. Enactment of the FY 2022 NDAA is a step forward in meeting this important responsibility, as I continue to advocate for provisions important to Idaho and our nation’s defense and federal policy that honors the enormous contributions of American service members and military families to our security and protection of our freedoms.
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Mike Crapo represents Idaho’s First Congressional District in the U.S. Senate. He can be reached at crapo.senate.gov.