Rep. Cisneros secures defense priorities in unanimous and bipartisan FY 2020 NDAA

Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, praised unanimous passage of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of committee and to the floor of the House. The annual NDAA authorizes funding for Department of Defense (DoD) programs and activities. The annual national defense budget involves millions of military and civilian personnel, thousands of facilities, and commands located around the world. This year’s NDAA includes several pieces of legislation and amendments Rep. Cisneros introduced and championed, including a bill to end military-connected child abuse, legislation directing the DoD to expand the use of zero and low-emission vehicles, and provisions to support sexual assault survivors and combat COVID-19.

“Aa a Navy Veteran, I was proud to work with my Republican and Democratic colleagues to pass the NDAA, strengthen our national security, and support servicemembers and their families. We owe it to our nation’s heroes to provide them with the tools and resources to do their jobs and keep them safe,” said Rep. Cisneros. “This comprehensive legislation reflects the priorities and values of our country and the 39th District. I’m grateful that it includes legislation and amendments I’ve introduced and championed, including ending military-connected child abuse, promoting DoD use of zero and low-emission vehicles, increasing diversity in our military, and passing a pay raise for our servicemembers. We have a responsibility to step up and serve those who selflessly serve us.”

Summaries of key provisions secured by Rep. Cisneros are listed below:

BILLS INTRODUCED: Rep. Cisneros introduced two bills that were incorporated into the FY 2021 NDAA.

  • HR 6667, End Military-Connected Child Abuse and Neglect Act: Rep. Cisneros secured committee passage of his bipartisan and bicameral legislation to improve how the Department of Defense tracks and responds to incidents of child abuse and neglect occurring on military installations involving military dependents.
    • The bipartisan and bicameral legislation was introduced with Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL-18) in the House and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Michael Rounds (R-SD) introduced companion legislation in the Senate. The Senate bill was included in the Senate-approved FY 2021 NDAA.
    • The House legislation was incorporated into the House Armed Services Committee FY 2021 NDAA by an amendment Congressman Cisneros jointly offered with Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO-04).
  • HR 6932, DoD Non-Tactical Vehicle Petroleum Reduction Act: Rep. Cisneros secured passage of provisions from his bipartisan legislation to ensure DoD continues to do its part to address climate change and replace non-tactical vehicles as they age with zero-emission vehicles.
    • The legislation was introduced with Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL-19)

COSPONSORED BILLS: Several bills Rep. Cisneros cosponsored were incorporated into the FY 2021 NDAA.

  • HR 7003, Work for Warriors Act of 2020: Rep. Cisneros helped introduce bipartisan legislation to create a pilot program within the Department of Defense (DoD) that ensures gainful employment for members of the National Guard, reservists, and their spouses. The bill is modeled after the California Work for Warriors program that connects with local businesses to identify job opportunities for veterans and their spouses and creates a pipeline of qualified candidates for willing employers.
    • Rep. Cisneros is an original cosponsor of the legislation and worked directly with the House Armed Services Committee to ensure its inclusion in the Chairman’s mark of the FY 2021 NDAA.
    • Last year, Rep. Cisneros secured the inclusion of the language in the FY 2020 NDAA in a bipartisan amendment that was approved on the House floor.
  • HR 5621, the Base Responders’ Essential Needs and Dining Access (BRENDA) Act: Rep. Cisneros introduced bipartisan legislation with Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL-06) to recognize the contributions of DoD’s protective services personnel, including firefighting, EMT, security and police services on military bases, by authorizing their access to commissaries and exchanges at military bases they are stationed in.
  • H.R. 7382, the Guard and Reserve Retirement Points During the COVID-19 Pandemic Act: Rep. Cisneros helped introduce bipartisan legislation to ensure National Guard training cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic do not adversely affect retirement for Guardsmen.
    Comprehensive Review of Military Suicide Act: Rep. Cisneros joined Reps. Trahan (D-MA-03) and Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) in introducing legislation to require the creation of a multidisciplinary board responsible for reviewing reports of suicide related deaths of U.S. servicemembers. The comprehensive findings from this board, paired with the currently available data, will be used to make recommendations to DoD leadership on how to best prevent servicemember suicide.
  • H.R. 5238 BRST Act: Rep. Cisneros joined Rep. Houlahan (D-PA-06) in introducing legislation to include double breast tomosynthesis screening (DBT mammography) as a covered preventive service under the military health system and TRICARE. Last year, Rep. Houlahan and Rep. Cisneros sent a letter to DoD urging the Military Health System to address the disparity in breast cancer screening coverage that puts servicewomen at risk.
  • H.R. 5887, the Guard and Reserve Hazard Pay Equity Act: Rep. Cisneros is a cosponsor of legislation to equalize Hazard Duty Incentive Pay for Guard and Reserve servicemembers.

AMENDMENTS: Rep. Cisneros introduced, cosponsored, and championed a number of amendments that were adopted in Committee.

  • Preventing Military-Connected Child Abuse and Neglect: Rep. Cisneros successfully offered a bipartisan amendment with Rep. Hartzler to add the text of HR 6667: End Military-Connected Child Abuse and Neglect Act to the FY 2021 NDAA; the amendment was approved by voice vote as part of an en bloc during committee consideration.
  • Strengthening Partnerships in the Indo-Pacific: Rep. Cisneros successfully offered an amendment to give DoD the authority to participate in a program with partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility to coordinate and share airlift capacity. The provision will help greatly enhance our ability to defend our mutual interests and respond to natural disasters and global pandemics.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Rep. Cisneros cosponsored several amendments related to diversity and inclusion that were included in the HASC-approved NDAA:
    • Chief Diversity Officer: creates a civilian CDO for DoD
    • Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council: creates such a body for DoD
    • Diversity in Selection Boards: requires SecDef to ensure selection boards are representative of the wider armed forces
    • Career Mentoring and Counseling Program: creates such a program, with an aim to promote a more diverse force.
    • Diversity Reporting Requirements: sets forth requirements for annual diversity reporting
  • Assessing Conditions of DoD Schools: Rep. Cisneros successfully offered an amendment requiring an assessment of the structural condition of DoD schools. Many of these facilities date back to the 1940s and 1950s, leaving military families in facilities that are aging, lacking sufficient space, and filled with mold, which are not conducive to the 21st century learning environment our students deserve.
  • Improving Congressional Oversight in Military Sexual Assault: Rep. Cisneros successfully offered an amendment to enable the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to receive the annual report on sexual assault involving members of the armed forces. The amendment will improve Congressional oversight and ensure DoD and the VA continue to work together to secure a seamless hand-off after service members leave the military.
  • Support for Victim’s of Sexual Assault: Rep. Cisneros cosponsored an amendment to affirm attorney-client privilege between Special Victim’s Counsel and survivors of sexual assault, strengthening their ability to seek redress.
  • Support Innovation for Servicemember and Family Readiness and Resiliency: Rep. Cisneros cosponsored a bipartisan amendment with Rep. Bacon (R-NE-02) that directs the DoD to provide a briefing on potential for developing innovation partnerships for software-driven solutions that assist servicemembers and military families in implementing a total force fitness framework in their daily lives.
  • Changing Military Bases Named After Confederate Generals: Rep. Cisneros supported an amendment requiring military bases and infrastructure currently named for individuals who served in the political or military leadership of any armed rebellion against the United States to be renamed within one year of enactment.
  • Strengthening Labor Protections for DoD Employees: Rep. Cisneros supported an amendment to limit the ability of DoD to exclude employees from collective bargaining agreements.

COVID-19 Provisions Secured in NDAA

  • Creates a Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund, directing $1 billion to efforts to proactively increase the country’s ability to prepare for and respond to future pandemics.
  • Requires one of the Assistant Secretaries to be the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy, whose principal duty would be the overall supervision of policy of the Department of Defense for developing and maintaining the defense industrial base of the United States and ensuring a secure supply of materials critical to national security.
  • Creates the Small Business Industrial Base Resiliency Program and authorizes the Assistant Secretary of Defense Industrial Base Policy to enter into transactions to purchase or make a commitment to purchase goods or services from small business concerns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These transactions are intended to support efforts to expand the small business industrial base in response to the pandemic and address supply chain vulnerabilities related to the pandemic for small businesses.

This article was released by the Office of Congressman Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr.