Garamendi Secures Wins for Climate Change, Military Housing, and More in National Defense Authorization Act Markup
Washington, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee within the House Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after the House Armed Services Committee completed its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020. The bill passed committee by a bipartisan vote of 33-24, and Garamendi voted for the bill. The legislation will now move to the House Floor to be voted on by the entire House of Representatives.
“This is the strongest markup for the National Defense Authorization Act that I’ve ever voted on,” Garamendi said. “The legislation includes a 3.1% pay raise for our service members and strong bipartisan support across a variety of issues. As Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee, I’m proud of the policies we were able to implement through the subcommittee that will make our military more adept at mitigating climate change. I’m also proud of the solutions we created for the privatized military housing crisis that was forcing many service members and their families into substandard living conditions on bases throughout the country.”
“This legislation also provides critical support for our own community, most notably in its support for the missions at Beale and Travis AFBs,” Garamendi continued.
The legislation includes robust funding for several military construction projects at Beale and Travis AFBs, which are summarized below:
Funds Military Construction Projects to Meet Travis and Beale AFB’s Priorities
Travis AFB – KC-46A ALTER B181/B185/B187 SQUAD OPS/AMU
Funding request: Support President’s Fiscal Year 2020 funding request of $6.6 million.
Alter existing facility space at Travis AFB to accommodate active duty and Air Force Reserve Component Aircraft Operations units' leadership, under the Total Force Integration concept. Adequate space for squadron operations and aircraft maintenance unit administrative functions is required to support KC-46A beddown. The Air Force has designated Travis AFB as the preferred alternative for the fourth KC-46A Main Operating Base (MOB 4). The first KC-46A tanker aircrafts are expected for delivery in Fiscal Year 2020. The new unit will be a total force initiative unit where integrated active duty and Air Force Reserve components will execute the mission together, therefore collocation is required to optimize unit effectiveness. This project will include necessary work to provide a complete and usable facility that meets mission needs and requirements.
Travis AFB – KC-46A REGIONAL MAINTENANCE TRAINING FACILITY
Funding request: Support President’s Fiscal Year 2020 funding request of $19.5 million.
Construct a properly sized and configured facility to house KC-46A Maintenance Training Devices and associated equipment. This facility will house large scale mock-ups, classrooms and training devices (hardware and computer based) to provide specialized hands-on training to enhance learning, facilitate the development of skills, and permit the practice of proper procedures necessary for the maintenance of integrated systems of the KC-46A aircraft. The KC-46A is a new aircraft and there are no facilities at Travis AFB capable of providing this type of training operations for this weapon system. Existing facilities do not meet physical requirements and cannot be modified to house the high bay and classrooms necessary to fit training devices necessary to train aircraft maintenance personnel. The new facility will provide a controlled training environment to receive formal instructions, avoiding the use of mission-ready aircraft for on-the-job training which results in reduced operational assets available for the warfighter and incurs higher fuel costs.
Travis AFB – Alert Force Complex
Funding request: Support President’s Fiscal Year 2020 funding request of $64 million.
Adequate and efficiently configured facilities are required to provide a secure alert force complex for the VQ-3 Detachment. The VQ-3 Detachment supports up to three of the 16 E-6B aircraft and aircrew within the Strategic Communications (STRATCOM) Wing One command. The aircraft and crew are on alert 24/7 to ensure survivable, endurable and reliable communications from the President and Secretary of Defense to the Nation's Nuclear Triad of strategic weapons delivery systems. At least one aircraft and aircrew must be on alert on a west coast base or airborne.
The VQ-3 Detachment's alert force complex is currently located on Travis AFB's south flightline. The existing facilities are not sized or configured adequately to accommodate requirements. The present site of the complex poses multiple constraints including violation of runway clear zone, flooding and danger of wildfire. Constructing a new compound north of the flightline and outside of the runway clear zone corrects Balanced Survivability Assessment, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Integrated Nuclear Survivability and Endurability Report, critical capacity, condition and configuration issues that degrade mission capability and threaten the ability to maintain continuity of communication capabilities. Crew readiness necessitates a secure group of facilities that meet both operation and crew requirements. This project ensures USSTRATCOM's ability to continue meeting strategic deterrence mission by maintaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.
Travis AFB – Mechanized Material handling System Allied Support
Funding request: $17 million
Companion project to a funded equipment procurement to replace the antiquated Mechanized Material Handling System at Travis Air Force Base. The existing material handling system has a high rate of unscheduled down-time due to frequent breakage and replacement parts are scarce or unavailable.
Estimated Award Date: 3rd Quarter FY20
Beale AFB – Hydrant Fuel System Replacement
Funding request: Support President’s Fiscal Year 2020 funding request of $33.7 million.
This funding will help replace obsolete and non-code compliant hydrant fuel system and operational fuel storage tanks with a modern pressurized fuel system and operational fuel storage tanks. The existing 1952-era underground fuel storage tanks (USTs) that supply the airfield hydrant system are near the end of their useful life. The USTs are no longer exempt from Federal regulatory requirements. The State of California, as the regulatory authority, has informed DLA the USTs are out of environmental compliance and require removal. The existing hydrant system will not function without the USTs. In addition, the existing pump house is an airfield obstruction and operates under a waiver. The current facilities are operational but degradation of the eight 50K gallon USTs indicates capability failure of the tanks is imminent. If not mitigated, closure and removal of the existing tanks will result in the loss of a functioning airfield hydrant system and total reliance on fuel truck delivery. Fuel truck refueling operations will significantly slow aircraft fueling operations.
Beale AFB – 230/60kV Interconnection and Transmission System
Funding request: Support President’s Fiscal Year 2020 funding request of $40.482 million.
The FY20 Air Force ERCIP Project at Beale AFB for the 230/60kV Interconnection and Transmission System is critically important to supporting current missions and enabling Beale AFB to continue to support intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and multi-domain operations. Beale AFB hosts the 9th Reconnaissance Wing which is responsible for providing national and theater command authorities with timely, reliable, high-quality, and high-altitude reconnaissance products. The wing maintains a high state of readiness in its expeditionary combat support forces for potential deployment in response to theater contingencies. This ERCIP project will allow Beale AFB to connect with a Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) substation to improve resilience and power supply on the installation. The current power supply will not be adequate given the increased ISR and multi-domain missions support at Beale AFB.
Combats the Climate Crisis
“Climate change is one of the greatest threats we face as a civilization. The U.S. military is the largest institutional consumer of oil in the world, and one of my focuses as Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee has been to ensure the U.S. military is prepared to respond to climate change and be an ally in the fight to end the global climate crisis. This markup takes unprecedented steps to empower the military to address climate change,” Garamendi continued.
The legislation addresses climate change by:
- Requiring the development of installation master plans that assess current climate vulnerabilities and plan for mitigating the risks to installations from extreme weather events, mean sea level fluctuation, wildfires, flooding, and other changes in environmental conditions.
- Limiting the Department of Defense’s ability to spend planning and design funds until it initiates the process of amending the building standards for military construction (Unified Facility Criteria) to ensure that building practices and standards promote energy, climate, and cyber resilience at military installations.
- Requiring all proposals for military construction projects to consider potential long-term changes in environmental conditions, increasingly frequent extreme weather events, and industry best-practices to withstand extreme weather events.
- Requiring the Department of Defense to report on the feasibility of transitioning installation planning from 100-year floodplain data to a forward-looking predictive model that takes the impacts of sea-level rise into account.
Addresses the Privatized Military Housing Crisis
“This legislation provides assurances that the men and women of Travis and Beale AFBs, as well as every service member and their family, receive good quality housing when they are stationed on base,” Garamendi continued. “Sadly, this year the Readiness Subcommittee was made aware of the unhygienic and dangerous living conditions thousands of service members and their families are subject to in privately constructed military housing. I’m relieved that this legislation takes bold steps to strengthen the tenants’ voices and to hold private housing contractors accountable for developing safe on-base housing for service members and their families,” Garamendi continued.
The legislation addresses problems with the management and oversight of military family housing by:
- Requiring the military services to have a tenants’ bill of rights for residents of privatized military family housing that includes at minimum the following elements: a prohibition on reprisal by either the private partner or military chain of command; provision of a housing advocate that is not co-located with or employed by the private partner; a dispute resolution mechanism; a mechanism for withholding rent payments where appropriate during the dispute resolution process; prompt provision of maintenance by qualified personnel and effective communication regarding the status of their work orders to include access to an electronic work order management system; professional and courteous property management services; and information about known and potential hazards at time of home selection, to include mold, lead, rodent infestation, and history of sickened residents.
- Prohibiting the use of non-disclosure agreements in connection with entering into, continuing, or terminating a lease for on-base privatized military family housing.
- Recommending the full committee authorize funding to hire civilian personnel to provide additional oversight and management of military family housing and require a report on the manpower requirements and execution plan to appropriately staff military housing offices.
Includes Garamendi’s Language to Support Veterans and Service Members Seeking Health Services
The markup language also includes the full text of the OATH Act, legislation that Garamendi introduced to ensure active duty military personnel and veterans can accurately document any toxins they were exposed to while deployed, so they can receive VA treatment for any health issues stemming from that exposure.
Garamendi introduced the bill in the House of Representatives this May, and successfully attached the legislation as an amendment to the NDAA.
“Our service members and veterans deserve the best care available and to have their medical records accurately reflect any Occupational and Environmental Health hazards they have been exposed to during their service to our great country,” Garamendi said. “Currently, active duty members and veterans are unable to make disability claims with the Veterans Administration based on exposure to toxic hazards such as mold, chemicals, and open-air burn pits because those exposures are not tracked in their medical records. This bill will change that and provide our nation’s service members with the support they deserve, and I’m incredibly pleased it has been added to the NDAA. This will greatly increase the OATH Act’s chances of becoming law.”
Includes Garamendi’s Legislation to Expand Tricare Reserve Eligibility
Garamendi also successfully added his legislation, the Tricare Reserve Improvement Act, to the NDAA mark as an amendment. This bill extends eligibility to all National Guardsmen and Reservists, regardless of their civilian occupation, for TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS).
Under current law, federal employees who serve in the National Guard or Armed Forces Reserve are prohibited from participating in Tricare Reserve Select (TRS). This disparity creates a financial incentive for transitioning service members to take their skillset and credentials away from the federal government and penalizes those who choose to serve their country in a civilian capacity. It also limits the effectiveness of TRS as a recruiting tool within the public sector.
“Our service members must have access to quality, affordable healthcare,” Garamendi said. “Under current law, National Guardsmen and Reservists who are federal employees are only eligible to enroll in the FEHB Program and are restricted from participating in TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS). This legislation would remove that restriction to provide continuity of care and a more affordable option for these servicemembers and their families. I’ve heard from reservists in my district at Travis and Beale Air Force Bases about this issue and how it’s impacted their quality of life, and it’s time for Congress to finally act on this common-sense piece of legislation. I’m pleased that this legislation will be included in the House version of the NDAA.”
New Resources to Fight Wildfires
Garamendi also successfully added an amendment to the bill that will allow the National Guard to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to help track wildfires, perform search and rescue efforts, and assist in other efforts to combat emergencies in California and throughout the nation.
“This amendment will provide invaluable resources for the State of California to respond to wildfires and other disasters,” Garamendi said. “The idea for this amendment came to me last year when I was studying the damage from the Mendocino Complex Fire in our community. First responders and other state officials explained to me that the availability of unmanned aircraft systems could help them track hot spots and in turn deploy their resources more efficiently to beat wildfires earlier and prevent greater loss of life and property. It is also a critical asset for wildfire prevention. I’m incredibly proud this legislation is included in the House NDAA, and I will do everything in my power to ensure it becomes law,” Garamendi concluded.