Houlahan Leads Freshmen Class With Successful Passage Of 17 Amendments Into National Defense Authorization Act
Leads initiatives to address PFAS in PA, fortify United States’ cybersecurity, support our servicewomen and women veterans, bolster military families, secure our rare earth supply chain and more.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) passed the annual bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) through the House Armed Services Committee by a unanimous vote of 56-0. Rep. Houlahan offered 17 amendments that the Committee voted to include in the bill, making her one of the most effective freshmen members on the Armed Services Committee.
“Our men and women in uniform, their families, and the American workers who support our warfighters should take heart from this bipartisan vote,” said Houlahan. “I am proud to represent our community and our Commonwealth on the Armed Services Committee, where I’m able to deliver bipartisan results for our national security. This bill provides a pay raise for our servicemembers, improves military family housing, increases access to childcare, invests in research and development to address emerging threats, funds an Indo-Pacific Reassurance Initiative to counter Chinese aggression and much more.”
One of Rep. Houlahan’s priorities as a member of the Armed Services Committee has been standing up for the talented workforce at the Sikorsky helicopter manufacturing facility in Coatesville, PA. After Houlahan’s intervention and advocacy last year – alongside the President and PA leaders – the company agreed to keep the facility, which is part of the effort to manufacture VH-92s – also known as “Marine One” – open. Houlahan secured language in this year’s defense bill to encourage additional production of VH-92 training aircraft, which would bring new work to the Coatesville facility, and to ensure that any future plan to close the facility would not adversely affect our military readiness.
Rep. Houlahan’s amendments will:
1. Require TRICARE to cover Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) Mammography. DBT, which is rapidly becoming the standard of care for breast cancer screenings, is covered by the VA, Medicaid and Medicare, leaving TRICARE as a very visible outlier amongst insurers and as denying women critical preventative health care. This bipartisan amendment has also been introduced as the standalone BRST Act (H.R. 5238/S. 2944) in the House and Senate by Rep. Houlahan and Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), both women veterans.
2. Improve and coordinate research into cleanup and replacement of PFAS chemicals, which have been found in the drinking water near many military bases and airports, and keeping Congress apprised of research in this area.
3. Require the National Space Council to assess the ability of the United States to effectively compete with foreign space programs and in the emerging commercial space economy and develop a strategy for the United States to maintain its position as the preeminent global space power. This amendment has also been introduced by Rep. Houlahan as the standalone STAR Act (H.R.6388), a bipartisan effort to ensure that the United States is actively leading the world in space technology development with an eye towards protecting our national security.
4. Require a Department of Defense (DOD) assessment of host nations' force protection measures for overseas military locations to ensure the safety of U.S. servicemembers, following the January 2020 terrorist attack on U.S. forces in Kenya, which killed three Americans.
5. Require the DOD to provide data on military clearance details. Some have argued that our nation’s military readiness is being negatively impacted by the DOD’s outdated approach to mental health and mental health treatment modalities, including the use of marijuana. This report seeks to understand how many people are denied intelligence clearance due to these issues.
6. Allow the DOD to reimburse military spouses for expenses incurred for exam fees, continuing education courses and registration fees in order to work in the spouse’s profession at the next duty station. Previously, fees associated with required “continuing education courses” were not reimbursable.
7. Amend the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship Program, which is a workforce development program for military spouses that provides up to $4,000 of financial assistance for licenses, certifications or associate degrees to pursue an occupation or career field. Essentially, this amendment will allow for required continuing education courses to be reimbursed.
8. Require an assessment of DOD’s management of cyber incidents and efforts to mitigate future cyber incidents. This assessment will allow for a better understanding of cyber-breaches and provide actionable items in order to more effectively equip ourselves to defend against them.
9. Require a report on the way that DOD assesses and eliminates weaknesses in its cyber infrastructure. DOD reports that outside contractors are much better at finding vulnerabilities. The report seeks to understand if DOD can better allocate these resources and why external hackers are more effective at attacking our cyber-infrastructure than professional DOD cyber-experts are.
10. Push DOD evaluate the effectiveness and efficacy of its own cyber hygiene protocols. There is broad concern that as the DOD requires private sector companies to implement cyber hygiene practices through the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework, the DOD itself is not compliant.
11. Require a DOD internal assessment and training needs analysis for DOD personnel on the role of women in fomenting violent extremism.
12. Ensure that DOD cannot convert civilian jobs into contractor jobs, cutting into our public service workforce and potentially costing the taxpayer more, without assessing the cost and impact on our servicemembers.
13. Require a report on developing a secure supply chain of niobium, an element similar to rare earths that is often discovered near tantalum. This is an extension of Rep. Houlahan’s bipartisan Securing Americas Rare Earths Supply Act of 2019, which was enacted into law in last year’s defense bill.
14. Exempt contracts awarded to certain small business concerns (8a, HUBZone, Women-owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned) from Category Management (CM) program and requires a plan to ensure small businesses can compete for these lucrative government contracts.
15. Add $5 million to “Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBRN)” for “treatment testing technology for CBRN exposure,” which will help ensure we have cutting-edge treatments for our servicemembers in the event of a CBRN attack.
16. Transfer an additional $27 million in funding to support research and development of detection and modeling of treatments for CRBN exposure.
17. Direct the DOD assess the feasibility of creating a policy that allows for flexibility in drill schedule to allow Reservists to take up to twelve weeks of parental leave.