Rep. Bera Provisions Included in FY21 National Defense Authorization Act Passed by House
The House of Representatives voted today in a strong bipartisan manner to pass the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA, which provides the annual budget for the Department of Defense (DOD), included key provisions authored by Representative Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation.
"I'm proud to vote to provide a much-needed pay increase for our brave servicemembers while also funding a strong and smart national security strategy that advances American leadership throughout the world," said Congressman Bera. "Supporting our servicemembers and funding our national defense should always be a bipartisan priority, and I'm glad to see today's strong vote reflect this."
This year's NDAA provides a three percent pay raise for servicemembers and continues key military housing reforms by updating minimum health and safety standards for all U.S. military base housing. It would also include robust funding to help clean up and protect communities from PFAS contamination.
Included in the bill is a provision introduced by Representative Bera directing the DOD to conduct a study identifying the financial hardships experienced by servicemembers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Just as American families across the country have experienced the devastating economic toil of the coronavirus, so too have our men and women in uniform," said Congressman Bera. "Many of our servicemembers have experienced financial hardships due to a loss of spousal income, loss of drill and exercise pay, and cancelled deployments. I am proud that my amendment was included in the NDAA, which explores the best ways to get assistance to members of our Armed Forces impacted by this pandemic and limit future economic disruptions."
Additional Bera provisions included in the NDAA are aimed at strengthening the U.S. capacity to prevent and respond to deliberate, accidental, and naturally occurring biological incidents by requiring the DOD and State Department to utilize its full powers to quickly respond to these threats and address emerging biological advancements that might threaten the United States.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerabilities our communities face to biological events," said Congressman Bera, who also championed an increase in the DOD's Biological Threat Reduction Program to $225 million from $127 million. "Now more than ever, our nation needs a proactive biological defense strategy to address the wide range of biological threats that may harm our country. I'm proud to be a leader in Congress in ensuring we prioritize biological threats in our national security strategy."
Also included in this year's NDAA is a Bera-led provision that requires a National Academies study on the impact of Chinese government policies and standards development on international bodies engaged in developing and setting international standards for emerging technologies, ensuring international principles that govern technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) will be transparent, equal, and fair.