Rep. Susan Davis Bill to End Military Hunger Passes the House as part of National Defense Bill
The House of Representatives passed legislation by Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA-53) to end military hunger. Davis, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, added language to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act to create a basic needs allowance to bridge the gap for eligible servicemembers who are currently not eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
“We should be able to meet the basic needs of our military families,” said Davis. “Military families go where they are ordered and sometimes that means moving to areas with a higher cost of living. Add to these situations where a spouse might have trouble finding new employment and this becomes a recipe for food insecurity. Creating a basic needs allowance is a simple solution to the critical issue of food insecurity among some military families.”
“It is unacceptable that military families are shut out of accessing SNAP and other food assistance programs, and must quietly turn for help to food pantries,” said Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “We are incredibly grateful for Rep. Susan Davis’s leadership in addressing the long-overlooked issue of hunger among military families, especially now, when the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the financial challenges of even more military families.”
In high cost of living areas like San Diego, some families of junior enlisted servicemembers struggle to put food on the table. Because of the way military pay is structured, military families who are eligible in other areas are often ineligible for SNAP when stationed in high cost of living areas like San Diego due to the inclusion of housing allowance in the eligibility calculation. A basic needs allowance will fix this problem.
The House version of the NDAA includes a bipartisan provision to begin the process of changing the names of military bases and infrastructure named after individuals who served in the Confederacy.
It continues to provide for our troops and military families with a three percent pay increase and authorizes increased funding to clean up contamination of drinking water on our military bases by PFAS chemicals while continuing to invest in improving the oversight and management of housing for military personnel and their families.
The NDAA also prohibits using defense funds to provide logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition for strikes in Yemen, as well as limiting the funding under the national emergency military construction authority to prevent its misuse on the President’s border wall.
As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, Davis influences policy changes and crafts key provisions each year in the bill. The following provisions were included by Davis in the base language of the NDAA or passed as an amendment in committee and which also passed in the House:
Support for Women in the Afghanistan Security Forces - Davis included a provision to set a goal of using $29.1 million to support the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan to promote the recruitment, training, integration, and retention of Afghan women into the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
This represents a key step to assure that peace and security processes do not overlook the inclusion of women, a critical strategy that research has shown reduces conflict. Davis has made numerous trips to Afghanistan in support of the troops, also meeting with Afghan women serving in their country’s defense forces and with women political and community leaders. A key to the success of the mission in Afghanistan is the ability of women to contribute to its growth and security.
Grieving the Loss of a Child - This Davis Amendment changes current leave policy for service members so their pre-approved parental leave is not terminated in the tragic event of a child’s death. This will ensure all military members have time to grieve after losing a child.
Absentee Ballots - The Committee approved an amendment offered by Davis to allow military and overseas voters to track and confirm the receipt of their ballots. Those fighting to defend our freedoms and democracy deserve to know their votes have been counted.
“Dangerous” Dogs - Establishes a standardized policy applicable across all military communities for the regulation of certain breeds of dogs. Some servicemembers, who are regularly transferred to different duty stations, are prevented from taking their dogs with them because of bans on breeds of dogs deemed to be dangerous in different areas.
Protecting Servicemembers from Forced Arbitration - Bans forced arbitration in employment rights claims, giving servicemembers full legal remedies if their employer fires them based on their military service.
Strengthening Oversight of Policies to Prevent Sexual Assault - This provision will require the Department of Defense to brief defense committees on the effectiveness of the 2019 military justice overhaul and provide recommendations for further improvement of the military justice system. Judges, Advocates, and General of each Armed Service must brief congressional defense committees on the services’ progress in establishing the Special Victims Counsel Programs, as well as the new separation policies for the victims and accused.