Washington, D.C. – Today, with the support of Alaska Congressman Don Young, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6395 – the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 – legislation to set the annual budget for the Department of Defense. In addition to supplying needed funding for military expenditures, providing a 3.1% military pay raise, and bolstering natural disaster and pandemic preparedness. This legislation also includes several provisions of importance to the State of Alaska that Congressman Young worked to include both during committee markup and as Floor amendments. Following House passage of the NDAA, Congressman Young issued the following statement:
“Every year, Congress passes the NDAA to authorize national defense spending for domestic and overseas operations. This year’s bill is an important one, and I am very proud of what we as a Congress were able to accomplish on behalf of our military. The FY 2021 NDAA takes critical steps to strengthen our national defense, provide a well-deserved pay raise for the brave men and women serving in our Armed Forces, and to equip our Armed Forces with the resources necessary to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. In Congress, relationships are crucial; this year, I worked with my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee to include my amendments, which bolster active duty health care, strengthen communications in the Arctic, and take action to turn the tide in the fight against military suicides. My good friend, the late Senator Ted Stevens, was a steadfast advocate for our great state. I am especially pleased that this year’s NDAA makes essential progress to ensure that the Ted Stevens Center for Security Studies becomes a reality. Senators Murkowski and Sullivan have been important partners in establishing the Stevens Center, and we will keep working to ensure that it becomes a reality that would make Ted proud.
If we are to have a first-rate military, we must ensure that we stand by our troops at every turn. This year’s NDAA not only gives our troops a three percent pay raise, but it also secures funding for all branches of our military, including our Space Force. Finally, I am proud that the NDAA re-authorizes the United States Coast Guard, which Alaskans rely on to keep our seas safe and navigable. This year’s NDAA is a very good bill, and I am proud to see such broad bipartisan support for our nation’s military, which is especially important in these uncertain times. Our men and women frequently find themselves on the front lines during times of national crisis and they must be supported. My commitment continues to be the men and women who risk their lives to keep us safe. In Congress, I will always champion their causes and make sure they know that we have their backs. I look forward to working with my friends in the Senate to ensure that the bill we send to the President’s desk is worthy of the finest military in the world.”
Congressman Young’s Initiatives Included in the Final House Bill:
- Health Savings Accounts (HSA): Congressman Young worked with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) of the House Armed Services Committee to secure an amendment that requires a Department of Defense study of allowing Tricare covered military retirees to contribute to an HSA.
- Defense Early Warning System: Working with Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Young secured language requiring a report on the resources and planning necessary to upgrade Defense Early Warning Sites in Alaska to include terrestrial linkages.
- Ted Stevens Center for Security Studies: Congressman Young’s amendment requires that a plan be submitted to Congress on the establishment of a Regional Center for Security Studies for the Arctic, and, after the submission of the plan, establishment of the center may begin. This is a shared priority with Senators Murkowski and Sullivan.
- Spousal Deportation: Congressman Young’s amendment helps keep servicemembers and their families together by requiring a certification be submitted to Congress before the non-legal resident spouse can be removed from the United States.
- Arctic Deputy Assistant Secretary: This amendment calls for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs to assign responsibility for the Arctic Region to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere or any other Deputy Assistant Secretary that the Secretary considers appropriate.
- Prevention of Suicide at Remote Locations: Congressman Young worked with Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) of the House Armed Services Committee on an amendment requiring the Department of Defense to complete a study addressing servicemember suicides in remote installations – a critical priority shared with Senator Sullivan. The study will include an assessment of the availability of suicide prevention information from Indigenous populations and graduate research programs in the area.