WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) spoke on the Senate floor yesterday to voice his support for the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA authorizes critical defense funding to improve military readiness, provides a 2.1 percent pay raise for military personnel, and improves the quality of life for service members and their families. Blunt also highlighted key Missouri priorities in the bill, including funding for the NGA West facility in North St. Louis, a new hospital at Fort Leonard Wood, and critical projects for the Air National Guard at Rosecrans in St. Joseph and the Army National Guard in Springfield. Blunt noted that Senate passage of the bill would mark the 56th consecutive year that Congress has passed the NDAA.
Blunt also discussed his Military Family Stability Act, which provides flexibility for military families by allowing them to either move early or remain at their current duty station for up to six months while their spouse begins a new assignment. Earlier in the week, Blunt spoke on the MFSA during the Senate Republican leadership press conference.
Following are excerpts from Blunt’s remarks:
On the Importance of Passing the NDAA:
“When we send our troops into harm’s way, it’s our job to ensure that they have the tools they need, that they have the resources they need, to carry out their mission. That’s what Chairman McCain has done in this authorization bill before the Senate today. Senate passage of the bill would mark the 56th year in a row that the Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act. …
“The world is a rapidly changing place. Our responsibility to defend freedom in that world, and the freedom of Americans, is something that every year needs to be carefully looked at and recalculated and recalibrated and that’s what Chairman McCain and his committee have done with this bill. …
“A 2.1 percent pay raise is a pay raise that’s richly deserved by those who defend us. The bill enhances the capability of our defense forces, the military, to defeat ISIS, to defeat Al-Qaeda, to defeat enemies that even though this is 16 years after 9/11, these are enemies that we still have a hard time fully understanding. The emerging threat of these enemies, the non-traditional threat, the non-traditional combatant, all are things that we need to continue to look at carefully to adjust to. To understand their prowess on social media, and other places, to understand what can happen there.”
On Key Missouri Priorities Included in the Bill:
“I’m glad that this bill projects some of the vital things that happen in our state… This bill further advances the need to replace the National Geospatial facility in St. Louis, where 30 plus percent of the people work that monitor our defense posture from the air, looking to see what’s happening, when it’s happening, how it’s happening…There’s a new hospital at Fort Leonard Wood in this bill. It’s been the number one medical priority for the Defense Department now, for about a decade. This funds the first phase of the replacement of that facility. As a National Guard training facility at Rosecrans, in St. Joseph, where our NATO allies go to learn. We had 19 countries in recent times, have come and learned the lift capacity, how you use those C-130’s, in the most effective and efficient way. That’s recognized in this bill, as is the AVCRAD, the aviation repair facility, in Springfield, Missouri. … The bill also provides robust funding for A-10 maintenance. That A-10 reserve unit at Whiteman, where the Secretary of the Air Force just was, is the unit, that if you’re talking to troops on the ground, they’d always like the A-10 in the air supporting them on the ground. There’s money here for Super Hornets to go on our aircraft carriers. It doesn’t matter how many aircraft carriers you have if you don’t have the planes to put on the aircraft carriers and this bill recognizes that.”
On the Military Family Stability Act:
“The Military Family Stability Act is in this bill. … The Secretary of Defense supports it, all the joint chiefs support it, and our House colleagues have supported it as well. The strength of the military is in the military family structure and what this does is allow the family to either move early or stay longer at these assignments, that normally are two to three year assignments, so lots can happen in two or three years, but not everything else just perfectly works out in two or three years. So for employment reasons, or for education reasons, if a family decides it’s their advantage to use the family support that the military provides, housing and other, and let the family stay another two months to finish school or for a teaching contract to end, or some other spouse activity to come to a reasonable conclusion. Or frankly, to do just the opposite, to go to the new assignment that you know you already have, but to do that just a little bit earlier so that it works better for the family. To start school on time. To start a job on time, that just has to start when that job has to start.”