House Passes National Defense Bill

Thompson supports pay raise for American troops, boost to long-missile defense fund, additional resources to combat Lyme disease

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018, which boosts defense spending, increases military personnel and gives a pay raise to our troops.

NDAA is an annual bill that authorizes some of the most basic and essential responsibilities of Congress – such as funding our Armed Forces and national defenses and paying the salaries of our servicemen and women. It passed by a vote of 344-81.

The bill increases defense spending 10 percent from last year’s level to $696.1 billion. That includes a $2.5 billion increase to the missile defense fund to ensure we can protect the homeland from threats posed by advanced, long-range missiles.

“The heart of this legislation is about keeping Americans safe,” Rep. Thompson said. “The NDAA provides our armed services with the resources they need to respond to a diverse range of national security threats. It also gives our troops a well-deserved raise, restores our forces to full strength and ensures that our military is equipped to confront the threats and challenges before them.”

LYME DISEASE AMENDMENT

Rep. Thompson and Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.) worked to include an amendment in the NDAA that authorizes the Secretary of Defense to make existing funds available from the Defense Health Program for collaboration with medical researchers and universities to address the growing number of tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, through research and testing.

The Army Public Health Center has operated a basic tick testing program since 1989. Military personnel can access tick identification and testing services through military health care facilities at no charge. However, the tests provided by this program are limited to only six tick-borne diseases. The CDC website lists sixteen, some of which can be fatal.

“Pennsylvania has experienced an increase in tick-borne illnesses – such as Lyme disease,” Rep. Thompson said. “In fact, data from 2015 shows that the Commonwealth had the greatest incidence of tick-borne illnesses in the nation. More research will save lives and I was pleased to cosponsor this bipartisan amendment with Mr. Keating.”

BILL HIGHLIGHTS

READINESS

The NDAA authorizes increasing the size of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Army Guard and Reserve, Naval and Air Reserve, and Air Guard.

It increases funding for maintenance for all Services, for increased training opportunities, and for sustaining, restoring, and modernizing facilities.

RESOURCES

This bill fully funds the 2.4 percent pay raise our troops are entitled to under law. It also extends special pay and bonuses for service members.

It provides commonsense resources to help families manage challenges like relocations, including reimbursements for spouse’s obtaining licensing or certification in another state.

REFORM

The NDAA streamlines bureaucracy, drives efficiency through competition, and gives the Pentagon the tools it needs to make better business decisions.

It adds oversight to service contracts: Any funding for services that need to be contracted out will now be submitted through the DOD budget process, forcing the Pentagon to analyze actual needs and spending patterns. Congress will have a better idea of what kinds of services are being contracted and their cost.

It improves the way the Pentagon buys commercial off-the-shelf goods, by allowing the DOD to use online commercial sites like Amazon or Staples, to get goods at a lower price, quicker, and in a more transparent process.