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House-approved defense bill includes wins for Alabama

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 350-80 Thursday to approve the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The must-pass legislation, which outlines how tax dollars will be allocated to the Pentagon, holds a price tag of $847 billion.

As the lead Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) played a critical role in securing provisions within the NDAA that benefit Alabama’s defense industrial base.

“The U.S. Constitution tasked Congress with our nation’s most important responsibility – to provide for our national defense – the National Defense Authorization Act is a vital part of this responsibility,” he said. “This year’s NDAA makes critical investments in our military to maintain overmatch with China – from boosting deterrence to securing our supply chain this legislation demonstrates strength in the face of China’s threats.

“I am also proud that this year’s NDAA supports our servicemembers by repealing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate as well as providing a boost in servicemember pay and allowances to counteract the effects of Biden’s inflation.”

The congressman detailed how the House-approved NDAA would serve to enhance the Yellowhammer State’s standing as a vital player in national security.

“This year’s NDAA also continues to bolster the crucial role that Alabama plays in our national defense by reversing President Biden’s dangerous cuts to our missile defense, supporting the work done at the Anniston Army Depot and expanding and modernizing our shipbuilding, among other initiatives,” said Rogers. “I’m proud of the many provisions in this legislation that will fortify our national security and keep our nation safe.”

Rogers is poised to become the House Armed Services Committee chairman when the Republican-controlled chamber is seated Jan. 3.

FY2023 NDAA provisions relevant to Alabama, as provided by Rogers:

  • Community Funded Project for Anniston Army Depot DLA Warehouse
  • Community Funded Project for Auburn University Battery Research Program
  • Increase in authorized funds for Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) procurement
  • Increased in authorized funds for Stryker Upgrades
  • Includes historic levels of investment to accelerate depot and shipyard maintenance projects and expedite facility improvements across all services
  • Reverses President Joe Biden’s cuts to the procurement of new aircraft, combat vehicles, autonomous systems, missiles and ammunition
  • Authorizes $15.5 billion for military construction and military family housing projects throughout the United States and around the world
  • Includes $1.03 billion to support expansion and modernization of the shipyard industrial base
  • Improves the test and evaluation enterprise to expedite the fielding of advanced capabilities
  • Establishes a National Hypersonic Initiative, to accelerate the development of hypersonic missiles and catch-up to Chinese and Russian programs
  • Reverses the president’s cuts to missile defense
  • Extension of a Department of Defense Education Activity pilot program at Maxwell Air Force Base
  • Vehicle Inspection Station Community Funded Project for Maxwell Air Force Base
  • Community Funded Project for Montgomery Regional Airport Base F-35 Load Crew Training Facility

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), an ardent supporter of Coastal Alabama’s shipbuilding community, said the NDAA’s passage was “a win for Alabama and the United States of America.”

“My colleagues and I successfully fought back against President Biden’s reckless cuts to our national security and put an end to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate on all active and reserve servicemembers,” said Carl, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “This bill ensures our armed forces are fully funded to combat growing threats around the world, gives our servicemembers a much-needed pay raise to combat inflation, and modernizes our military, all while cutting waste to save taxpayers billions of dollars.

“I was proud to vote yes, and I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for seeing this bill across the finish line.”

U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, praised the work of Republicans to repeal the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for service members.

“It is critical that we continue to fund and strengthen our military, especially at this crucial time when China in particular is an ever-growing threat,” said Palmer. “This legislation repeals the unnecessary COVID vaccine mandate on our military which will help mitigate the slump in our recruitment and retention levels.

“The bill provides funding stability badly needed for our armed forces to prepare for future threats to our country. It also provides a nearly 5% pay raise for our soldiers, some of whom have been forced to use food stamps to make ends meet for their families during this record level of inflation.”

Palmer authored a provision to authorize funding for the Hoover-based National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI) for an additional five years. The institute is a federal-state partnership, spearheaded by the U.S. Secret Service, that trains local and state law enforcement on matters relating to cybersecurity and computer forensics.

“[W]ith an increasing number of state sponsored attacks occurring online, NCFI will play a role in training those combating these actions,” he said. ‘I am proud to see Alabama’s Sixth District continuing to play an important role in our protecting our nation.”

UPDATE 2:22 p.m.:

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, lauded the removal of the bill’s “woke elements” that were supported by Democrats.

“I was proud to vote yes on the National Defense Authorization Act, NDAA, which authorizes funds for our military,” said Aderholt. “Even though Republicans are not yet in the majority in the House, we were able to strip the leftist, woke elements Democrats wanted to include. We were also able to put guardrails in to make sure the money Congress authorized for Ukraine is not wasted.

“But on top of all of that, we have increased funding for our military, we’ve continued our support for hypersonics, and we started the process of weaning our nation off of critical minerals that come from China and other unfriendly nations,” he continued. “This is crucial as China continues to strengthen its own military in the attempt to surpass us in strength and technology. I will continue to push for more spending on our military, because truly the most important vote members of Congress make is one to defend our nation.”

RELATED: Aderholt lays out priorities for U.S. space dominance, warns of Chinese threat

“I also want to thank my Alabama colleague, Rep. Mike Rogers, the incoming Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, for his leadership in shepherding this bill through the House. I look forward to working with him in the new Congress to continue to build and strengthen our nation’s defenses,” concluded Aderholt.

UPDATE 6:11 p.m.:

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) hailed the exclusion of the “experimental” COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“Removing this unconstitutional vaccine mandate from the NDAA is a massive victory for my district and for our brave service members who do not want to be forced to take an experimental vaccine,” said Moore. “I am proud to have joined the Republicans who held the line and forced Democrats to compromise by voting against previous versions of this legislation which included the vaccine mandate and other poisonous policies that required women to register with the Selective Service and instituted red flag measures for servicemembers.”

“This legislation provides service members with a well-deserved 4.6% pay raise to combat Biden’s inflation, authorizes eleven new battle force ships to strengthen our Navy, provides resources for defense assistance to our great ally Israel, and invests $11 billion in resources to combat Chinese aggression,” he continued. “I’m thankful for my colleague Mike Rogers for his tireless work on this important legislation.”

Moore concluded, “Although the passage of this bill is a victory for our service members, the battle is not over. I will continue fighting for restoration with full backpay of the patriots who were purged from our military by Biden’s military vaccine mandate.”

Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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