WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today applauded Senate passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included several of the senator’s priorities and key provisions to support the critical national security mission at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL).
The $740.5 billion FY21 defense spending bill includes $22 million for a new munitions storage facility at McGuire, $15 million for a New Jersey National Guard readiness center, military housing improvements, and a three percent pay raise for active duty military personnel. It also includes language that will delay the retirement of the KC-10 mid-air refueling tanker flown at JBMDL until the next generation KC-46s are fully deployed.
“I am proud to vote ‘yes’ on a comprehensive, bipartisan bill that enhances the Joint Base’s mission, supports our brave men and women in uniform, helps our Vietnam veterans get the care they need, assures congressional oversight over key issues of foreign policy and national security, and takes long overdue steps to remove symbols of hate that commemorate our nation’s racist legacy and the Confederate traitors who sought to uphold it,” said Sen. Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We not only need to ensure military readiness to confront the serious threats facing our nation, but also set an example to the rest of the world by making clear what America stands for.”
The NDAA includes several Menendez-led measures:
- Requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) to submit to Congress a report on how it is implementing Sen. Menendez’s Guardians of America’s Freedom Medal Act that created an official commendation for military working dogs (MWDs) and their handlers.
- Requiring the Comptroller General of the United States submit to Congress a report on handling by Department of Veterans Affairs of disability-related benefits claims by veterans with Type-1 diabetes who were exposed to a herbicide agent.
- Providing congressional oversight of United States talks with Taliban officials and Afghanistan’s comprehensive peace process.
- Providing assistance for United States citizens and nationals taken hostage or unlawfully or wrongfully detained abroad, and for other purposes. (Sen. Menendez’s Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act passed the Senate in June, but inclusion in the NDAA assures passage in the House of Representatives and the bill becoming law.)
The NDAA also includes several measures supported by Sen. Menendez:
- Establishing a commission to study and provide recommendations for the removal, names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America.
- $5 billion to further a federal study on exposure to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination in drinking water being conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). New Jersey has significant exposure to PFAS contamination, including in areas near military installations, like JBMDL, and in other communities around the state.
- $44 billion for DoD vaccine and biotechnology research to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious diseases.
- Helping Vietnam veterans suffering from bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinson’s by including those diseases on a list of diseases presumed to have been caused due to exposure to Agent Orange.
- Prohibiting the DoD from conducting in FY21 another BRAC round for the purpose of closing or realigning military installations.