WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22), the annual defense bill that he leads in his role as Chairman.
“The FY22 NDAA is an excellent piece of legislation that makes transformational policy changes with direct benefits for our service members and their families. The NDAA also represents the legislative process at its best. This year, like every year, we worked for months to identify policies where we agree, and where we don’t, and engaged in thorough, thoughtful debate on all of them.
“Thanks to the hard work of Democrats, the bill includes a number of incredibly important provisions. The bill makes dramatic reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice to address the scourge of sexual assault in our military – an issue that Congress and our military has failed our service members on until now. Specifically, the bill removes the Commander from decisions related to the prosecution of special victim crimes and criminalizes sexual harassment and violent extremism under the Uniform Code of Military Justice – two huge steps that will better protect service members.
“In the face of the climate crisis, the FY22 NDAA builds on ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote green energy, and enhance energy resiliency within the military. In addition to increased investments in the research and development of green energy technologies, the bill requires the Department of Defense to consider the need for electric vehicle infrastructure at military bases and installations, establishes a new program that will promote long-duration energy storage projects, and promotes the use of sustainable aviation fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. Together, these and other climate-focused provisions will help reduce the DoD’s carbon footprint.
“I am pleased the NDAA once again includes historic legislation to protect public lands. It would designate millions of acres of public lands as wilderness or potential wilderness areas, preserving and protecting these public lands to improve biodiversity, safeguard water quality, and protect wildlife habitat. This includes legislation from Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) to protect roughly 131,000 acres of public lands and add over 450 miles to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System on Washington's Olympic Peninsula.
“This year’s NDAA also addresses one of our most pressing foreign policy needs: support for evacuation and relocation efforts from Afghanistan. The bill repurposes billions of dollars to help support our ongoing diplomatic mission to help bring Afghans who may be in danger to safety – whether these Afghans supported the U.S. military, or worked on humanitarian and human rights issues, they deserve our support. This bill gives necessary resources to help make that support a reality.
“The country continues to grapple with racism and extremism, and the Department of Defense is not immune. As such, the bill builds on last year’s NDAA to continue to promote a more diverse, inclusive fighting force and equips the DoD with the tools necessary to combat extremism in the ranks by establishing an Office of Countering Extremism. It once again includes increased funding for research and development and partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Minority Institutions (HBCUs).
“The Department of Defense has a critical role to play in addressing PFAS contamination in and around our communities. This bill includes historic funding, over $500 million, for the cleanup of these forever chemicals at military instillations. The bill requires the Department of Defense to use enforceable state standards when they are more strict than federal regulations, establishes a 2-year deadline for completion of PFAS testing at Department of Defense and National Guard installations, and requires the Department to report on the status of clean-up at 50 PFAS sites across the country.
“It is past time to close Guantanamo Bay, and the FY22 NDAA does not include the arbitrary statutory prohibitions on transfer of detainees out of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which currently hinders progress toward its closure. This will enable President Biden to take long overdue steps to close Guantanamo Bay.
“The NDAA continues Congressional efforts to improve U.S. policy towards the conflict in Yemen and ensure the Department is not providing support to Saudi Arabia for offensive actions against the Houthis. President Biden has rightfully reoriented U.S. policy in the conflict in Yemen and I strongly support this Administration’s focus on urging all parties to engage in a political resolution to the conflict and alleviating the humanitarian crisis.
“The bill prioritizes our service members and their families by supporting a basic pay increase of 2.7 percent and by allowing the Secretary of Defense to pay a basic needs allowance to a qualified service member. Together, these policies will help protect our service members against hunger and help them pay their bills. These brave men and women who are serving our country, and who are willing to pay the ultimate price to keep us safe, deserve the support this bill provides.
“Finally, the NDAA also carries critical affordable housing legislation that I have championed: the Promoting Affordable Housing Near Transit Act. Once enacted this bill will help facilitate creative ways to develop new, affordable housing units near city centers or along accessible transit lines. Specifically, my legislation will allow transit entities to partner with community-driven organizations to utilize currently unused land and build affordable, transit-accessible housing for those who need it most. As housing costs continue to rise in urban areas – including King County – we must get creative about securing affordability, and I am proud to have successfully included my bill in this year’s NDAA.”