Washington, D.C. – Last evening, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly was named to the conference committee that will negotiate a final national defense bill. Last month, the Senate passed the bipartisan national defense bill, which includes several provisions Donnelly led or supported to reinforce Indiana’s role in our national defense and to protect American security interests and U.S. defense-related jobs. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a different version in late May and the two versions must now be reconciled by the conference committee. The defense bill has been signed into law the last 56 consecutive years.
Donnelly, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said following passage of the Senate version of the national defense bill last month, “This bipartisan legislation would support our servicemembers and Indiana’s role in our national defense. It would protect American defense-related jobs and help strengthen the Pentagon’s efforts to combat opioid abuse. I look forward to working with the House to get this quickly to the president’s desk and give our servicemembers, their families, and our military’s leaders the ability to plan for the future.”
Background on provisions included in the Senate-passed version of the defense bill:
Crane and Grissom
- Donnelly fought for robust funding to support military facilities in Indiana:
- Crane: The Senate bill includes $16 million to support a railyard at Crane’s Army Ammunition Activity to support its operations. It also includes $6.9 million to support energy conservation projects at NSA Crane.
- Grissom: The Senate bill includes $12.1 million for a hangar at Grissom Air Reserve Base that would fully enclose the KC-135R, supporting the performance and safety of maintenance personnel and operations, and $9.4 million for a new aerial port facility, which will provide essential and critical space for airmen to process cargo and load aircraft.
Notre Dame and Purdue
- Donnelly successfully pushed for increased investment in technologies of the future that could help universities like Notre Dame and Purdue: The Senate bill robustly supports science and technology efforts, including $15 million to support development of hypersonic wind tunnels, which would support the next generation of weapons. Much of this work is being done at universities in Indiana, such as Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame.
- Donnelly also fought for Fort Wayne’s 122nd Fighter Wing: The Senate bill includes a Donnelly-led provision that, if enacted, would allow for the correction of the flawed Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) allocation for Ft. Wayne’s 122nd Fighter Wing. This provision would allow for the BAH to increase, giving 122nd families the money for housing that they deserve. More than 200 military members in the Ft. Wayne area would see an average of more than $130/month in BAH increase.
Protecting American National Security Jobs
- Donnelly pushed for responsible federal contracting: Due to Donnelly’s leadership, the Senate bill would require the Department of Defense to examine the F-35 supply chain and identify potential vulnerabilities of parts manufactured abroad. Currently, Honeywell’s South Bend facility manufactures components for the F-35, but some of that work is scheduled to be outsourced to Turkey.
- A Donnelly provision, adopted by the committee and included in the Senate bill, would ensure that our nation retains key national security capabilities within the federal workforce.
- Donnelly fought to keep key technologies safe: Donnelly championed provisions that help fight to keep key sectors of our defense industrial base robust and secure from threats, such as tampering and counterfeit parts. Another Donnelly-supported provision would help ensure that companies that provide products crucial to our national defense are not purchased by a foreign adversary like China.
- Donnelly helped make sure Hoosiers can compete fairly against foreign competitors: He successfully pushed for provisions that would ensure future Department of Defense procurement competitions aren’t unfairly tilted towards the foreign competition.
- The Senate bill also includes a Donnelly-led provision expressing the sense of Congress that the Department of Defense contracts should be going to companies that primarily employ American workers and are not outsourcing American work.
Supporting American Servicemembers
- Military pay raise: The Senate bill would provide a 2.6% pay raise for servicemembers.
- Combatting the opioid epidemic: A provision included in the Senate bill would help integrate the Department of Defense’s Military Health System with state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), which help combat opioid abuse through information sharing, preventing the misuse or diversion of opioids and other controlled substances.
- The Senate bill would also require the Defense Health Administration to start a pilot program to help prevent opioid abuse by minimizing early exposure.
- Supporting National Guard mental health: At Donnelly’s request, the Senate bill would support the National Guard’s pilot program on mental health assessments. This builds on Donnelly’s Sexton Act, which for the first time requires annual mental health assessment for all active-duty and reserve servicemembers, as well as his ‘Care Package’ to improve access to mental health services for servicemembers and their families.
- Helping servicemembers transition to civilian life: The Senate bill includes a provision that would support training necessary for servicemembers to successfully transition to civilian life at the end of their time in the military.
Other Notable Provisions:
- Supporting Israel’s missile defense: The Senate bill fully funds support for Israel’s missile defense programs, including Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow. Cooperative missile defense is a vital component of our bilateral strategic relationship with Israel and is a high priority in light of threats posed by Iran’s ballistic and cruise missile arsenal and support for terrorist proxies across the Middle East.
- Ensuring capabilities to confront North Korean threat: The Senate bill would support military capabilities to counter the nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. A Donnelly provision in the bill seeks to ensure that U.S. government agencies have adequate resources to reduce the risk of nuclear and missile proliferation.
- Countering the use of human shields by terrorists: Bipartisan language co-led by Donnelly would also require the Department of Defense to plan to counter the use of innocent civilians as human shields by terrorist groups including Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, and Al Qaeda.
- Protects American telecommunications security: The Senate bill would prohibit the Department of Defense from procuring, obtaining, or renewing contracts that utilize equipment or services from China’s Huawei Technologies or ZTE Corporation. ZTE sold sensitive technologies to Iran and North Korea in violation of U.S. sanctions laws. Huawei is reportedly being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for potentially violating U.S. sanction laws as it relates to Iran.