Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement after key provisions he authored to support the Rock Island Arsenal and the National Guard were passed by the House Armed Services Committee early this morning. Loebsack, the only member of the Iowa delegation who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, offered these amendments to be included in the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was passed by the full committee. The legislation also includes language, which Loebsack supported and worked to include, to address the ongoing military sexual assault crisis. Additionally, it prohibits any new BRAC rounds, which Loebsack fought to include in the bill.
“Our men and women in uniform and our military families serve our country proudly and honorably. As a military parent, I am proud to have worked to deliver the level of support and access to resources they deserve. The legislation that now heads to the House floor includes language that I authored, which will make the Rock Island Arsenal stronger by helping to drive work there not just from the Army, but from across the Department of Defense. This provision will help both the Arsenal and Quad Cities’ economy remain strong.
“I am also proud that the legislation would require mental health and suicide prevention resources be provided to our National Guard and Reserve servicemembers. At a time when we are continuing to see utterly unacceptable suicide rates in our Armed Forces and shortages of mental health providers in our communities, it is critical that all of our servicemembers have ready access to high-quality mental health services.
“While this legislation does not include every initiative I have pushed for to address military sexual assault, it takes multiple important steps forward to address this crisis, ensure victims have the support they need, and prosecute perpetrators. I will continue to work to address this issue with the urgency it deserves.”
Specifically, amendments authored by Congressman Loebsack included in the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act are:
- Workload for Rock Island Arsenal – Drives workload from all of the military services and defense agencies to Rock Island Arsenal by requiring the Department of Defense to assess manufacturing work that can be performed there. It also improves Rock Island Arsenal’s ability to compete for work by requiring contracting officers to contact the arsenal with manufacturing requirements and allow them to submit bids for the work. These provisions will provide critical workload support to Rock Island Arsenal and its workforce as the drawdown in Afghanistan continues. By driving work to the Arsenal, they will support the highly skilled workforce there and improve Rock Island Arsenal’s ability to support our servicemembers across the entire Department of Defense;
- Mental Health Care for our National Guard and Reserve Troops – Requires the Department of Defense to provide specific resources to support mental health care and suicide prevention for our National Guard and Reserve troops.
- National Guard and Reserve – Building on reauthorization of National Guard counter-drug schools that was included in the FY 2013 NDAA, Loebsack pushed continued support for the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center at Camp Dodge and included a provision requiring DOD to review the support for the National Guard’s work at the school’s to provide counter-drug training, including to local law enforcement who keep drugs off our streets.
In addition, Loebsack pushed to include many provisions important to our troops and their families, including:
- A 1.8% pay raise for our troops, more than the 1% that was requested by the Department of Defense;
- Rejects Department of Defense proposals to increase TRlCARE enrollment fees and pharmacy co-pays;
- Allow military retirees in Iowa and elsewhere to elect to stay on TRICARE Prime instead of being forced to move to TRICARE Standard as the Department of Defense has proposed. Switching from TRICARE Prime to TRICARE Standard would increase out of pocket costs for retirees. Loebsack has pushed for this in order to prevent health care cost increases for Iowa’s military retirees;
- Requires a minimum of 180 days notification for deployment of members of the National Guard and Reserve;
- A number of important sexual assault prevention and prosecution provisions which Loeback has championed, including:
- Stripping commanders of their authority to dismiss a finding by a court martial;
- Prohibiting commanders from reducing guilty rulings;
- Sets dismissal or dishonorable discharge dismissal as the mandatory minimum sentence for an assault conviction;
- Removes the current five year statute of limitations on sexual assault under the UCMJ;
- Requires victims be given access to qualified, specially trained lawyers to provide legal assistance.