Rep. Peters Fights for San Diego’s Interests in National Defense Authorization Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) released the following statement on the passage of H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2014, in the House Armed Services Committee. The bill passed the committee early this morning on a bipartisan 61-0 vote and moves to the House floor for consideration.
“It is unusual and gratifying for me to be a part of a truly constructive and bipartisan success in Congress,” Rep. Peters said. “Our unanimous approval last night is the first step toward our 53rd straight military budget, one that will expand and upgrade our military’s technological capabilities, diversify its energy portfolio, improve readiness, and protect the country’s promises to our soldiers and veterans. At the same time we serve our national security, we are also creating jobs in San Diego, since our economy is so closely linked to our military bases and our private sector military technology. I am glad to have developed such a strong working relationship with Susan Davis (CA-53) and Duncan Hunter (CA-50), the other San Diegans serving on our committee, who were integral to our bipartisan success.”
Some of the main features of the NDAA, including several amendments offered by Rep. Peters, are:
Rep. Peters sponsored an amendment, which was adopted by the committee and included in the bill, that prevented the Department of Defense from taking over firefighting efforts and support aircraft, C-130s, that have long been operated by the California National Guard and the Governor. “San Diego knows the harm and pain of wildfires all too well,” Rep. Peters said. “Moving the authority of firefighting aircraft away from states would detrimentally delay response times and potentially cost lives. I’m glad my amendment was approved and that we’re keeping these capabilities in state hands.”
“Since coming to Congress Representative Scott Peters has been an unwavering supporter of our men and women in uniform, including critical firefighting operations,” said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General of the California National Guard. “He deeply understands these issues and how important they are for San Diego; we all remember the 2003 Cedar Fire and 2007 Witch Creek Fire, two of the largest fires in California history. I want to personally thank Scott for his strong leadership and support of the National Guard’s lifesaving MAFFS firefighting mission.”
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Congressman Peters led a successful effort to transfer $120 million that had been unnecessarily appropriated to a failing project, a so-called ‘zombie earmark,’ to instead pay for 8 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that were an unfunded priority of the Air Force. Peters’ contested motion passed by a narrow, bipartisan 32-29 vote. Reapers are a tried and tested system relied upon heavily in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have also been used at the state level for combating wildfires. The production of UAVs is an economic driver in San Diego County and our proud contribution to keeping servicemen and women out of harm’s way while extending the range of our national defense capabilities.
Watch Rep. Peters speak about this amendment here.
Military Energy Security
Rep. Peters offered two amendments incorporating portions of bicameral legislation he introduced last week promoting energy diversity in the military, known as the Department of Defense Energy Security Act. While these amendments were ultimately withdrawn, the NDAA does include language to improve energy efficiency in UAVs including through non-conventional power sources to extend range and endurance. In the hearing Rep. Peters said the following about his amendments: “Energy security is national security, and taking measures to improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel consumption and its costs means a more capable and ready military. The most recent quadrennial defense review highlighted the connection between energy and security stating that investment in energy efficiency, new technologies, and renewable energy sources make us a strong and more effective fighting force.”
Watch Rep. Peters speak about these amendments here.
Improving Communications Satellite Procurement
The legislation included a provision pushing the Department of Defense to bring its communications satellites into the modern era by ensuring it has the authority to procure the necessary technology. Many of these cutting-edge communication technologies are developed in San Diego, and this smart procurement strategy was a top priority for Rep. Peters and Rep. Hunter.
As part of the effort to honor the promises made to our troops, the NDAA included language supported by Rep. Peters that encourages partnerships between military health facilities, universities, and hospitals, by allowing military departments to establish cooperative healthcare agreements. This allows them to conduct collaborative research and gather data on health issues that impact the servicemen and their families. The goal is to develop and implement innovative, specialized treatments.
Mt. Soledad Memorial
This year’s NDAA also included language nearly identical to legislation proposed by Rep. Hunter, which was supported on a bipartisan level by Rep. Peters and Rep. Davis, to convey the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial to the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, the cost of which will be covered by the Association.
As successful as last night’s efforts were, there is more work ahead. The full House of Representatives will need to pass the NDAA, and the Senate will also have to agree. And, in the next fiscal year, unless there is a new budget agreement, the threat of the across-the-board, meat-axe cuts known as ‘sequester’ are slated to kick in again. Rep. Peters stated, “As I have done throughout my time in Congress, I continue to advocate for an end to the harmful sequester that undercuts our military’s long-term mission readiness and capability to perform the very tasks that Congress asks of them. I will continue to speak out until these foolish, across-the-board cuts are fully undone and replaced with smarter, more mission-driven ones.”
Finally, he added, “I’m aware and glad that President Obama is in San Diego today, and while I’m sorry I couldn’t be there show him the innovative companies and research facilities that are driving economic growth and making groundbreaking discoveries, or our region’s numerous military installations, it was most important that I be in Washington to help pass this budget for our national defense and servicemembers in addition to the other important votes scheduled today.”