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Rep. Jill Tokuda backs major defense legislation, prioritizes Hawai‘i’s military community : Maui Now


December 17, 2023, 3:11 PM HST

Rep. Jill Tokuda voted to pass the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act. The bill, which the Senate passed earlier this week, passed with a 310-118 vote in the House and will be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Tokuda fought for and secured provisions that would advance key priorities for Hawai‘i, for service members and their families, and for national defense. 

“This year’s NDAA carries critical priorities to support Hawai‘i and the role we play in the Indo-Pacific region, and I will continue fighting above all to ensure that the Department of Defense understands and fulfills its responsibilities and obligations to the people of Hawai‘i,” said Tokuda.

Select priorities secured and supported by Rep. Tokuda in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act are listed below. 

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Fighting for Hawaiʻi

  • Requires an updated joint Housing Requirements and Market Analysis to comprehensively assess military housing needs and impacts on local rental supply in Hawai‘i. 
  • Directs an annual report on federal programs and research related to petroleum exposure in the context of the Red Hill fuel spill and a feasibility study on an epidemiological health outcomes study of individuals impacted by the Red Hill fuel spill. 
  • Requires the designation of a senior official to coordinate and lead negotiations with the State of Hawai‘i regarding military land leases.
  • Directs the development of a master plan for the State of Hawai‘i to modernize critical defense infrastructure, including electrical grids, drinking and wastewater systems, and communications systems. 
  • Requires a strategy to acquire and develop an integrated air and missile defense architecture for Hawai‘i and the broader Indo-Pacific region.
  • Directs the Government Accountability Office to study the cost-of-living allowance for service members in the continental United States, Hawai‘i, Alaska, and at overseas locations to ensure equity and fairness in the process for determining the cost-of-living allowance.  
  • Directs military installations with Native Hawaiian or other indigenous interests in the surrounding area to designate an appropriate liaison to those communities.
  • Authorizes $134.5 million for the construction of a new Wastewater Reclamation Facility at Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i (Kāne‘ohe Bay).
  • Authorizes over $1.3 billion to support the Dry Dock 3 replacement and $60 million for planning and design of the Waterfront Production Facility at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. 

Supporting Service Members, Civilian Personnel, and Their Families

  • A 5.2% pay raise for service members and an authorization for monthly bonuses to junior enlisted service members due to adverse economic conditions.
  • Expanded eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance to support food, housing, and other necessities for junior service members.
  • Authorizes the use of various funding streams for the replacement of substandard enlisted barracks and requires enlisted housing to meet the same basic standards regardless of whether they are privatized or government owned. 
  • Authorizes $301 million in military construction for new child development centers and $60 million for planning and design to accelerate future child development center replacements.
  • Includes consideration of military service when determining family and medical leave eligibility for federal employees.
  • Creates career opportunities for spouses by expanding the noncompetitive appointment authority to spouses of DoD civilian personnel and the eligibility for reimbursement for licensure, certifications, and business relocation costs when military spouses transfer locations. 

Strengthening National Security

  • Authorizes $14.7 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and establishes the Indo-Pacific Campaigning Initiative to support increased frequency and scale of exercises and operations in the region and deter aggression by the People’s Republic of China. 
  • Authorizes the sale of up to three Virginia-class submarines to Australia and the joint training of shipyard workers in support of AUKUS.
  • Authorizes $3.6 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative and $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to support Ukraine’s continued self-defense and deter further Russian aggression against European allies and partners. 
  • Prohibits the suspension, termination, or withdrawal from NATO except by and with the advice and consent of the Senate or by an Act of Congress.
  • Authorizes increased funding to invest in critical technologies, including quantum computing, artificial intelligence, fuel cells, and more.
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“While this is by no means a perfect bill, Democrats fought hard to remove far-right, extreme provisions that targeted health care for women, transgender service members, and the Department of Defense’s ability to recruit and retain a diverse workforce. This final product ultimately reflects Congress’s bipartisan commitment to support our service members and their families, stand by our allies and partners, invest in our domestic industrial base, and strengthen our national defense,” Tokuda added.

A full summary of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act can be found online here.

Source: Maui News

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