After a busy few weeks in Washington, I'm glad my colleagues in the House came together to pass the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. Although the bill isn't perfect, it contains vital funding for our military and important provisions on sexual assault. The bill also awards valuable new military projects to the San Diego area.
I hope that you will find this edition of my Defense E-Newsletter helpful, and I look forward to your feedback and suggestions for future issues. As always, do not hesitate to contact me!
Susan A. Davis
Member of Congress
Remembering Ike Skelton
It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of my friend and mentor, former Congressman Ike Skelton. As Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a military historian, his top priority was to care for our men and women in uniform. A compassionate and caring man who simply thought of himself as a country lawyer, Ike always put his nation
and constituents first. When I assumed Chair of the Military Personnel Subcommittee in 2007, which he had also chaired during his service in Congress, he was a source of support and sage advice. I will fondly remember the times we worked together.
House Armed Services Committee Report
Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
On December 12, the House passed H.Res. 441, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. This bill is the result of a joint effort between the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, and though it’s not perfect, it makes important progress in a variety of areas. At times I was frustrated by the lack of progress on the bill, but with Senate passage last night I’m optimistic that the President will sign it into law, making
this the 52nd year in a row that Congress has passed a defense authorization bill. Click here for a summary of the bill.
The NDAA and San Diego
The FY14 NDAA contains provisions that would see the San Diego region receive more
than $130 million in new military acquisition and construction projects. Almost all of San
Diego’s military bases will benefit from the funds, which would come in addition to
regular base operations and maintenance budgets. Some of the larger projects include new housing and training facilities in several locations, improvements to the SEAL base in Coronado, and an energy conservation project at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
I firmly believe the future of Afghanistan depends on the fair and equitable treatment of Afghan women. So I’m particularly proud that the bill includes a section I proposed that directs a portion of
the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund to be used for programs and activities to support the recruitment and retention of women in the Afghanistan National Security Forces. This provision does not call for any new spending, but it ensures that
the important role of women in the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police will not be overlooked.
Funding for Universities
The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program is a way for public universities to compete for grants from the Department of Defense, and partner with them on real-world experiments relating to the warfighter. These programs allow our educational institutions to showcase their immense assets, not only in the scientific realm, but also with their students and professors. I have long fought to increase funding for this
program, and was again proud to see that the almost $80 million the President requested was kept intact in the final passed version of the NDAA.
As the Ranking Member on the Military Personnel Subcommittee, I helped lead bipartisan efforts to make sexual assault prevention and prosecution a major part of this year’s bill. The final version includes over 30
reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including: stripping commanders of their authority to dismiss or reduce a guilty verdict; establishing minimum sentencing guidelines and eliminating statute of limitations for certain sex offenses; providing more legal resources to victims; prohibiting personnel found guilty of sexual assault from continuing to serve in the military; and reforming the Article 32 pre-trial hearing to properly focus on probable cause. We still have a long way to go in ending sexual assault, but I think these provisions have us headed in the right direction.
You can watch a video of me speaking on the sexual assault provisions of the NDAA here.
I was pleased to see $602 million awarded to our shipbuilders at NASSCO to help construct the 4th Mobile Landing Platform (MLP). This award helps guarantee a continuous workload at NASSCO, while also ensuring that the learning curve continues in a downward slope as the costs of follow on ships decrease.
I joined with my colleague Rep. Kevin McCarthy in introducing legislation to reduce obstacles to voting for many military personnel and overseas voters. The
Safeguarding Elections for our Nation's Troops through Reforms and Improvements, or SENTRI, Act (H.R. 3576) improves the voting process for military and overseas voters. Our men and women in uniform make sacrifices every day to preserve our democracy and the cherished right to vote that goes with it. However, many of our service members face challenges when it comes to voting because they move frequently and often have to vote from remote locations.
will ensure that the Department of Defense implements important reforms, such as ensuring that absentee ballot requests are valid for one full year and that military voters who move are afforded greater opportunity to change their mailing address so their absentee ballot gets to the right place. The bill also creates greater voter registration and information opportunities for military voters by making voter assistance part of a service members’ annual
San Diego Defense Community Report
New Faces in San Diego
Some of you might be interested to know about the new leadership at some of San Diego’s most important commands. The changes in command include:
- U.S. Third Fleet: Admiral Floyd replaced Admiral Beaman
- Navy Region Southwest: Admiral Lorge replaced Admiral Smith
- Naval Special Warfare Command: Admiral Losey replaced Admiral Pybus
- Naval Medical Center San Diego: Admiral Gillingham replaced Admiral Faison
- MCRD San Diego: General Bierman replaced General Yoo
- Naval Base Coronado: Captain Sund replaced Captain Mayes
- Naval Base San Diego: Captain Jones replaced Captain Smith
- SPAWAR Systems Center: Captain Rothenhaus replaced Captain Beel
Veterans Day is a time to honor the veterans who have served and sacrificed on our behalf. San Diego is truly America’s Finest City, and our service members and veterans are a big part of what makes San Diego so special. I was proud to participate in the 2013 Veterans Day Event – “A Tribute to Vietnam Veterans.” It was both exciting and humbling to see all the people who came out to watch the
parade. San Diego honors its veterans as only a military town can.
Resources for Veterans
In the days leading up to Veterans Day, I was privileged to present a proclamation to Southwestern College’s Veterans’ Resource Center (VRC). The VRC will be an invaluable resource to veterans and their families as they navigate their education benefits, assimilate into the Southwestern College community, and plan their future careers. We must do all we can to help veterans transition from
military service to civilian life, and education benefits provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs are a benefit that empower veterans as they move forward in their lives. I commend Southwestern College, and its veterans, for a creating a space where veterans can come together to navigate that process.
When the USNS Mercy was preparing to set sail to assist with U.S. recovery assistance in the Philippines, I met with the ship's CO and crew to discuss future deployments and the benefits of having a hospital ship in San Diego. We should be proud the Mercy calls San Diego home!
SDSU is "Best for Vets"
I was so proud to hear that San Diego State University was recognized by Military Times as one of the top schools in the country for veterans. The “Best for Vets” rankings provides service men and women a gauge by which to judge whether a school or degree program will truly benefit them. The rankings reflect such factors
as service member enrollment, percentage of tuition covered by the G.I. Bill, and availability of programs to help service members. Go Aztecs!
Lindbergh Field is now home to the largest airport USO in the world. I toured the new facility last month and had the opportunity to have lunch with Marines just out of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
I met with civilian and military personnel at SPAWAR Headquarters to take questions on federal issues and listen to concerns about how budget uncertainty is impacting federal employees. In addition to speaking with employees, I received updates on the MUOS and CANES programs.