WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the conference report for the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into law. U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, helped advance major provisions of this bill and served on the NDAA conference committee.
“Congress has come together to provide a pay raise for the men and women who serve our country. We are building on our nation’s capabilities to address the many threats we face from around the world. We have also provided improvements to our nuclear deterrent, missile defense, and space operations in this bill. I’m especially proud of our success in including provisions for substantial upgrades to the C-135 fleet at Offutt that will help keep the 55th Wing prepared and safe,” said Senator Fischer.
Senator Fischer chairs the Strategic Forces Subcommittee. The final version of the FY 2019 NDAA preserves a number of her subcommittee’s key accomplishments. The bill:
- Prioritizes the mission of the men and women of USSTRATCOM by funding the sustainment and modernization of our nuclear forces and the supporting infrastructure of the Department of Energy.
- Allocates key resources to implement the administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review by authorizing funding for the development of the low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead.
- Authorizes significant additional resources to accelerate the modernization of our nuclear forces, enhance our investment in next-generation space and missile defense capabilities, and meet vital unfunded warfighter requirements.
Outside of the Strategic Forces subcommittee, Senator Fischer also championed several independent initiatives that were included in the FY 2019 NDAA. Several of these initiatives are listed below.
- Includes Full Authorized Funding for the OC-135 OPEN SKIES Recapitalization: The final version of the FY 2019 NDAA includes an amendment that Senator Fischer helped spearhead with Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, Jack Reed, to provide full funding for recapitalization of the Offutt-based OC-135B aircraft – a key priority for the Secretary of Defense, explained in letter to Senator Fischer here.
- Fully Authorizes Substantial Upgrades to the Airframes of the 55th Wing: The conference report includes full funding for the Air Force Budget Request to significantly upgrade to the capabilities of the RC-135 RIVET JOINT and WC-135R CONSTANT PHOENIX aircraft, bringing the total investment in aircraft based at Offutt Air Force Base to over $600 million.
- Prioritizes the Safety of the 55th Wing and Offutt Air Force Base: Senator Fischer secured language in the conference report that directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study of Offutt’s C-135s to examine issues regarding aircraft availability, mission capability rates, sustainment, maintenance, and reliability – all key areas used to ensure the safety of the men and women of the 55th. Just as importantly, it will also direct the Secretary to describe the acquisition strategy which will ultimately be used to recapitalize each version of the C-135 aircraft.
- Encourages the Swift Completion of the Offutt Runway Project: The bill includes language drafted by Senator Fischer to encourage the Air Force to swiftly and diligently complete the Offutt runway project, and directs a larger assessment of the overall state of the Air Force’s runway infrastructure.
- Includes Reforms Based on the “Gold Star Family Support and Installation Access Act”: Includes a provision authored by Senator Fischer to ease access for surviving spouses and next of kin to military installations to access benefits they are eligible for.
- Authorizes Funding for New Infrastructure Upgrades to USSTRATCOM: Authorizes important funding for maintenance, operations and construction, including funding for a new parking lot for USSTRATCOM.
Taken as a whole, the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act includes a comprehensive set of measures designed to continue rebuilding readiness and execute the core tenets of the administration’s National Defense Strategy that:
- Continues to rebuild the military and address significant readiness shortfalls by authorizing a total of over $716 billion for national defense – an increase of $16 billion from FY 2018.
- Supports the President’s reorientation of the military away from low-intensity conflict toward the great-power competition in response to the 21stcentury security environment.
- Authorizes significant increases for training, depot maintenance, and facilities sustainment to address critical readiness shortfalls.
- Authorizes a pay raise of 2.6 percent for all members of the uniformed services, recognizing that no piece of equipment is more important than the men and women who wear the uniform.
For more information on the measures secured by Senator Fischer in the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, please see the press release on Senate passage here and on the release of the conference report here.