Throughout yesterday and into the night, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) championed forward thinking military energy security policies, smart and tough strategies to fight terrorism, and San Diego’s defense priorities during the House Armed Services Committee markup of the ‘National Defense Authorization Act,’ (NDAA), which serves as a roadmap for national defense spending for the 2017 Fiscal Year. The bill, which authorizes $610 billion in defense spending for the next fiscal year, passed the committee at approximately 2:30am EST on a 60-2 vote and will now advance to the full House of Representatives.
Congressman Peters, who has concentrated on defense energy since coming to Congress, was credited with leading a surprising bipartisan defeat of three reckless anti-energy security amendments and adoption of an additional amendment that removed harmful provisions on biofuels from the bill. During a night that saw few truly close, bipartisan votes, Rep. Peters rallied members from both parties around the topic of military energy security in the face of considerable opposition from members of the committee opposed to allowing the military to invest in renewable energy, deploy biofuels, and consider climate change when developing a national security strategy. Rep. Peters’ remarks on the national security threat of climate change and on the importance of diversifying the military’s fuel supply can be viewed here, here, and here.
“These legislative victories in D.C. mean that our military leaders in San Diego and across the country have the tools and backing they need to equip a 21st century military and confront the new and dynamic threats we face,” Rep. Peters said. “It isn’t enough for us to authorize the building of ships and aircraft; we have to give our military the advanced technology and flexibility necessary to complete their missions safely and efficiently, and that includes allowing them to invest in renewable energy and biofuels that reduce costs and save lives. Energy security is a national security imperative, and we cannot tie the hands of our military leaders at a time when climate change threatens to exacerbate existing challenges and endanger military bases in San Diego and elsewhere.”
Among the provisions included to fight terrorism were:
- $750 million to the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, which provides support and assistance to foreign security forces and other groups fighting terror;
- $250 million for vetted Syrian opposition fighters through an extension of the Syrian Train and Equip program;
- $680 million in assistance to the Iraqi security force and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters combatting ISIS, a quarter of which is contingent upon the Secretary of Defense submitting a plan to retake Mosul, Iraq.
Rep. Peters also lauded reforms that streamline processes for businesses to compete for defense contracts and expand the DoD’s flexibility to adapt upgrades to weapons systems over time; this will get innovative technology into the field faster to aid warfighters in the fight against terror.
Rep. Peters continued, “Congress’ top priority must be to prevent terrorist attacks like those that we have seen in Europe from happening here, and today the Armed Services Committee took smart, bipartisan steps forward to take the fight to ISIS and enhance our national security. And as we pivot to the Pacific and expand our use of Special Forces against terrorist threats, the strategic role of San Diego in our national defense will only continue to grow.”
The proposal that passed the committee authorized almost $280 million for military construction projects at Naval Base Coronado and Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, as well as over $154 million for military construction projects at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Congressman Peters, co-chair of the bipartisan Special Operations Forces Caucus, noted that those projects included more than $94 million for the Coastal Campus expansion project that will rebuild and improve training facilities for Coronado’s Navy SEALs.
In addition to his successful efforts on defense energy, Congressman Peters had a number of provisions included in the final bill. Details are below:
- A negotiated provision that facilitates a necessary land exchange between the Port of San Diego and the U.S. Navy regarding the Navy Broadway Complex;
- An amendment offering support for DoD programs that provide specialized camps for military children who are grieving the loss of a parent, guardian, or sibling. These camps are also available for children with a parent, guardian, or sibling struggling with addiction;
- An amendment that directs the Secretary of Defense to identify the best ways of informing servicemembers’ Network of Support, typically made up of family and close friends, so they may better support members of the armed forces suffering duress due to their service;
- An amendment directing the Secretary of the Navy to investigate the circumstances which may have influenced mutiny charges against, and convictions of the individuals convicted in courts-martial arising from the explosion at Port Chicago (California) Naval Magazine on July 17, 1944.