Washington, DC –U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) Friday voted to pass S. 2226, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, which authorizes funding for military and national defense priorities. This bill will bolster America’s security, backs servicemembers and their families by increasing military pay by 5.2% and by building up the support systems around them, and gives our military the equipment and infrastructure they need to defend our nation, both at home and abroad. The NDAA also includes critical priorities from Senator Murkowski that emphasize Alaska’s critical role in our national defense strategy.
“I’m proud to have championed measures in this NDAA to strengthen our national security and uplift our brave servicemembers and their families,” said Senator Murkowski. “This bill authorizes significant investments in vital infrastructure and addresses the needs of our military personnel in Alaska and across the globe, ensuring they have the resources to fulfill their missions. By enhancing our presence in the Arctic and taking steps to improve relationships with our Tribal partners, we are reinforcing Alaska’s critical role in our national defense strategy.”
HIGHLIGHTS FOR ALASKA
Improving Quality of Life for Military Members and Their Families
- Extending the Don Young Arctic Warrior Act: Senators Murkowski andDanSullivan(also R-AK) worked hard to pass the Don Young Arctic Warrior Act last year, so that our militarywillhave the support they need while serving in Alaska. One of theprovisions allowedservicemembers stationed in Alaska to be reimbursed for cost of airfare to their home. This important benefit was extended in this year’s NDAA. The opportunity to go home for the holidays or for an anniversary is a critical morale-booster for troopsand their families.
- ImprovingTroops’Basic Needs Allowance:Studies have shown that food insecurity impacts nearly one in four armedservice members, and one in eight military families, highlighting the need to do better to ensuretheir basic needsaremet.That’s why Murkowski fought to help create the Basic Needs Allowance (BNA) in FY 2022, and why she pushedfor modifications in this year’s NDAA that will create greater efficiencies within BNA, and lower barriers for members applying for it.
- Using Research and Data to Help Troops in Crisis: Building off the work she did through her“Department of Defense Overdose Data Act,” Murkowski added requirements for greater reportingon military overdoses, so that the Department of Defense(DOD) willhave greater insight and tools to help servicemembers in crisis.
- Implementing All Available PFAS Treatments:PFAS contamination remains a challenging issue in Alaska, because of its continued use in defense communities and on military bases.Murkowskihaspushed DODto use the best available and emerging treatment optionsto limit PFAS contamination and exposures.
Investments in Alaska
- MilitaryConstructionfor JBER Air GuardHangar: Murkowskifought toauthorizeplanning and design fundsfor anew purpose-built facilitythat will be constructed tohouse12 KC-135aircraftand their personnel. Because of the cold conditions in Interior Alaska, itoftentakes 24 hours to thaw out aircraft before flights. With this new heated hanger space,aircraftwill be operationally ready at a moment’s notice, leaving us better prepared to quickly address threats.
- Expanding Our Digital Defense Infrastructure:Cyber Operations for Base Resilient Architecture (COBRA) is critical for addressingcyber threatsto our nation.COBRA hasgone from a pilot programtoa model for numerous DOD organizations on how to best identify and defend essential cyber terrain. Murkowski identified this as a crucial needand added language to expandCOBRA to become a main part ofDOD’soperations.
- TakingAdvantageof Alaska’sExpansive Range for MilitaryExercises: DODreports have highlighted the importance of training exercises that simulate contested and rugged conditions for military readiness. Alaska’s unrivaled, expansive ranges provide the perfect setting for real war conditions, andMurkowskihasauthorized increased funding for military exercises inthe statethat will ensure our military is better prepared for challenging combat situations.
- ImprovingRelationshipswith Local TribalPartners: Our military works best with our communities when there is a transparent and open dialogue between them. That’s whyMurkowskiinsisted on a Tribal liaison position atDODinstallations that have ongoing consultation and coordination withTribes. When employed,this has ledto remarkable success and improvementsinthat important relationship.
- Reauthorizing andExpandingthe Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA):Designed to streamline and consolidate the U.S. Department of Housing andUrban Development’s(HUD) housing programs for Tribes, Murkowski andSenator Brian Schatz (D-HI)ledanamendment to reauthorize and expand NAHASDA, which expired in 2013. The seven year reauthorization,which was added to NDAA by a strong bipartisan margin,includes important reforms to foster greater local control, streamlineenvironmental review for tribal housing projects, and incentivizepartnerships.