June 27, 2019
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) discussed several national and Missouri defense priorities included in the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill provides the largest military pay increase in nearly a decade, reduces barriers to employment for veterans and military spouses, and provides the resources the military needs to defend the country. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill later today.
It also authorizes funding for F/A-18 and F-15 aircraft, which are produced in St. Louis, and supports defense priorities at Missouri’s military installations, including the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Springfield, the Vehicle Maintenance Facility at Whiteman Air Force Base, and the C-130 Flight Simulator facility at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base.
Blunt noted that the bill authorizes funding for the B-2 program and research and development for the B-21, a next generation Air Force bomber that will replace the B-2s at Whiteman.
In addition, the bill includes a Blunt-backed amendment that designates May 1st as Silver Star Service Banner Day, a time set aside for Americans to honor the sacrifices of wounded and ill members of the Armed Forces.
Following Are Excerpts From Blunt’s Remarks:
“I want to talk a little bit about a bill we should pass this week, I believe we will pass this week for the 59th straight year. There are very few things that we authorize every year. Frankly, there are very few things we need to authorize every year. But the authorizing bill in defense is the opportunity for the country and for the Congress to look at what we need to do now that's more appropriate than what we needed to do a year ago to defend the country. …
“The burden of defending the country is an important one and frankly, Mr. President, it falls on a very small percentage of our population. About one half of 1% of the American people serve in the military. We owe an obligation to that one-half of 1% to do our best for them. This bill supports an across-the-board pay increase of 3.1%, a little more than inflation. It's the largest increase in nearly a decade at a time when the people who serve see challenges in more areas than we have seen in a while and coming from different directions than we've seen for a while. …
“We need to look at what we can do to be sure that the spouses of those serving have an opportunity when they're transferred to a new location to be able to get to work as quickly as possible in the field they're prepared to get to work in. In Missouri this year, in January of this year, the first spouse of someone who'd been transferred to our state was sworn in immediately to the bar so she could immediately begin practicing law. … But to be able to go to work - whether it is as a medical technician or a doctor or a lawyer or an electrician or a welder - this should be a priority for the country. … So this [bill] actually allows more effort to be made, to be sure that we're working with the Council of State Governments on a certification program to where you could move to a state and quickly be doing that. …
“This legislation supports military construction projects, including the National Guard Readiness Center in Springfield, Missouri, where I live; the vehicle maintenance facility at Whiteman Air Force Base in our state; the C-130 flight simulator facility at Rosecrans in St. Joe, are all included in this authorization project. Projects like these are necessary to ensure that the military is ready to fight and support their needs at home when they're home.
“There are other aircraft we need to be sure have a viable part of the country's future. The NDAA … provides an additional 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets to the Navy and begins the purchase of eight F-15s for the Air Force. All those planes are made in St. Louis. The bill also includes critical mission support for the A-10 Warthog. …
“And finally, Senator Hawley from Missouri, Senator Manchin from West Virginia, and I have proposed an amendment to the NDAA that makes May 1st Silver Star Service Banner Day. I have been, along with Senator McCaskill, my colleague who just left, doing this annually for some time. We think this would be a great year to make this a permanent recognition of those Silver Star families.
“I'd like to particularly recognize Diana Lynn Newton, the cofounder of Silver Star Families of America who passed away earlier this year. She and her husband Steve were really the driving force behind the organization, and they've really helped thousands of veterans who otherwise were getting very little recognition for their Silver Star service. I'm saddened at her loss. Hopefully one of the things we'll do in this bill is to recognize her great commitment, making that Silver Star recognition day an annual event.
there are bipartisan priorities here. There are priorities here that deal with
the needs of the military and their families. That pay raise is a significant
part of this bill. But being sure that the number-one job of the federal
government - defending the country - continues to be recognized as the
number-one job, makes this unique annual reauthorization of the defense bill so
important. And I look forward to seeing this Congress pass this bill this week
in the Senate and hopefully soon after that in both the Senate and the House.”