Tuesday U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly was named to the Senate conference committee that will help negotiate a final national defense bill with the U.S. House of Representatives. Last month, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan national defense bill which includes Donnelly’s measure requiring the Department of Defense bring to Congress a clear, comprehensive strategy to confront the threat posed by North Korea. The conference committee now will work to reconcile differences between the Senate and House bills. The NDAA has been signed into law the last 55 consecutive years.
The national defense bill includes a number of provisions and efforts led by Donnelly to recognize and support critical contributions that Hoosiers make to national security and, at Donnelly’s request, includes $8.5 billion for missile defense system upgrades.
Donnelly, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said following Senate passage of NDAA last month, “The security threat posed by North Korea is real and increasing. The Senate-passed defense bill includes my critical amendment requiring a comprehensive strategy for confronting the North Korean threat. This bipartisan bill would help keep our nation safe, while providing our servicemembers at home and abroad with the tools they need to fight and win on the battlefield and come home safely. And this legislation would support Indiana’s critical role in our national defense and support the Hoosier men and women who serve in uniform.”
NORTH KOREA, MISSILE DEFENSE, & NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION
- Strategy Addressing the North Korean Threat: The bill includes Donnelly’s amendment that would require the Department of Defense to bring to Congress, within 90 days of enactment, a strategy addressing the threat posed by North Korea. Donnelly recently spoke on the Senate floor about the amendment.
- Defending the U.S. from North Korean ICBMs: As Ranking Member of the Strategic Forces subcommittee, which oversees U.S. missile defense systems, Donnelly secured $8.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency to strengthen homeland and regional missile defense systems that protect the United States, our allies and our troops overseas from missile threats, including North Korean ballistic missiles. This is $600 million more than requested by the Administration.
- Israeli Missile Defense: At Donnelly’s request, the bill would fully fund U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense programs. These programs are designed to thwart a diverse range of threats, from short-range missiles and rockets fired by non-state actors, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, to mid- and longer-range ballistic missiles in the arsenals of Syria and Iran. 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.
- Non-Proliferation Programs Including Nunn-Lugar: The bill would fully fund the Nunn-Lugar program. The Nunn-Lugar program supports cooperative efforts between the U.S. and foreign allies and partners to counter weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological threats. The program is named after Senator Richard Lugar who helped create it at the end of the Cold War. This is the latest in Donnelly’s success efforts to fund the Nunn-Lugar Program through the national defense bill.
- New Facilities in Indiana: The bill, at Donnelly’s urging, would fully fund a $24 million military construction project at Crane Army Ammunition Activity in Indiana. The bill would also provide an $8 million for a military construction project at Terre Haute Regional Airport, in support of operations of the Indiana National Guard’s 181stIntelligence Wing.
- Flexibility in Lab Budgets: Also thanks to Donnelly’s efforts, the bill would codify and make permanent authority Donnelly has supported over the past several years to give individual military labs, like NSWC Crane in Indiana, permission to use 2-4% of their annual budget for things like in-house research, transitioning technology innovations to operational use, training and educating laboratory staff and making minor improvements or repairs to their infrastructure and equipment.
- Expedited Access to University Expertise: The bill would give DoD authority to establish new multi-school partnerships (via contracts, consortia, cooperative agreements or other arrangements) to make it easier and faster for DoD to work with key university partners on topics relevant to military needs. Donnelly has worked with universities across Indiana, including Purdue, Indiana University, Notre Dame to create and strengthen opportunities for DoD to access the knowledge and expertise of their students and faculty.
SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS
- Military Pay Raise: The bill would increase servicemember pay by 2.1%.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Treatments: The bill would encourage DoD to use the Food and Drug Administration’s Breakthrough Therapy Designation program to help develop and approve novel drug therapies for PTSD.
- Traumatic Brain Injury Research: The bill would encourage DoD to continue its collaboration with public and private partners to accelerate the development of pharmaceutical therapies to reverse the effects of TBI.
- Transitioning Servicemember Employment Pilot: The bill would create a pilot program to improve access to employment opportunities as servicemembers transition out of the military and into civilian life. The program would take advantage of existing programs within DoD as well as services and resources of state and local agencies, academic institutions, employers and other public, private and non-profit entities.