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Following Senate & House Passage, Kaine Hails Wins For Virginia In Annual Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, which passed the Senate 70-27 today following House passage of the legislation last week. The NDAA conference report, which is based on bills reported out of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees earlier in the year, includes a number of provisions that Kaine supported during the Committee markup and Senate floor processes which benefit Virginia.

“The NDAA conference report is thoughtful bipartisan compromise legislation, written to the President's budget level, that will make the investments and reforms necessary to keep America safe and support our troops,” said Kaine.  “The legislation we passed today includes provisions I fought for to support shipbuilding and authorize military construction in Virginia, as well as protect servicemembers and their families from drastic changes to the benefits they deserve. While I support this bill that will benefit Virginia and our military, I disagree with the strategy of using $38 billion in war funding, rather than the base budget, to fund defense. I was encouraged to see my language was retained in the conference report calling for the repeal or modification of budget caps and the restoration of funds to the base budget, in the event that a budget deal is reached.  I continue to urge my colleagues to sit down at the negotiating table and reach a long-term, bipartisan budget deal.”

The following list includes many of the programs and provisions Kaine supported that were included in the final bill:

Supports Shipbuilding: Provides funding for procurement and sustainment of the statutory requirement to maintain the 11-carrier fleet. The bill continues the refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of CVN 73 and advanced procurement for RCOH on the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The bill also authorizes an increase of $800 million for the Virginia-class submarine program. The bill authorizes the purchase of one additional destroyer, the President’s budget request for the Ohio-class replacement program, the LPD-28 class of ships and accelerates the LX(R) next generation amphibious ship program.

Protects Commissaries:  Restores full funding to military commissaries and overturns language which would have jeopardized cost-saving benefits for our service members, their families and military retirees.

Improves Background Checks and Combats Insider Threats:  Includes a provision authored by Senator Kaine and Senator Tester requiring that the Secretary of Defense implement improvements to the security clearance process and insider threat protections to better secure federal workplaces and security facilities.

Improves Credentialing Process for Servicemembers: The authorization includes two provisions Kaine introduced to reduce veterans’ unemployment by ensuring that servicemembers receive high-quality, accredited credentials that will prepare them for a successful transition to civilian employment. The authorization also requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on how credentialing authorities have been implemented in the armed services and requires DoD to inform Congress on future credentialing plans. These provisions build on amendments Kaine successfully introduced during previous NDAA markups.

Bolsters Cybersecurity: The committee also adopted an amendment introduced by Senators Kaine and Gillibrand to increase the DoD’s ability to hire the talented cyber workforce necessary to confront today’s complex cyber threats. This provision will allow DoD to compete with civilian employers recruiting talented cyber workers and will strengthen a field which many transitioning servicemembers pursue after transitioning from active duty.

Puts Congress on Record Against Sequestration:  The conference committee adopted two Kaine amendments denouncing the non-strategic and across-the-board sequestration cuts and their harmful impact on our national security that must be resolved through bipartisan legislation. Expressing this position on sequestration builds on Kaine’s bipartisan amendment that was adopted during Senate consideration of the budget resolution this year.

No BRAC Round:  The bill rejects DoD proposals for a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.

Adopts Compensation Proposals: Includes many proposals from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Committee, including a modified version of the Commission’s retirement plan. The bill includes a 1.3% pay raise and incorporates a 401(k)-styled matching Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) but allows for current servicemembers to remain in the existing retirement system.

Authorizes Military Construction (MILCON): The committee authorizes 17 critical military construction projects throughout the Commonwealth, including infrastructure facilities in Hampton Roads, Richmond, Quantico, Wallops Island, Ft. Belvoir and Joint Base Langley-Eustis.