Rep. Peters’ Bill to Reduce Veteran Homelessness Passes as Part of 2021 Defense Budget
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) voted to pass the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, a bipartisan bill agreed upon by both the House and Senate that finalizes defense-related funding levels and sets policy for the coming year. This action sends the bill to the president’s desk.
“San Diego is a proud military town that continues to play a critical role in national defense,” said Rep. Peters. “The legislation we passed today ensures our armed forces have what they need to keep Americans safe and gives special consideration to the new challenges we face in light of COVID-19. It includes important provisions that prioritize San Diego interests, funds critical military construction projects and innovation, and provides major victories for our servicemembers and veterans.”
The bill includes Rep. Peters’ Veteran HOUSE Act of 2020, which expands eligibility for the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (VASH) voucher program to allow veterans with other-than-honorable discharges access to supportive housing benefits.
"Veterans with other than honorable discharges make up 3 percent of the veteran population – but they compose 15 percent of the homeless veteran population,” Rep. Peters continued. “Expanding housing assistance and services to these men and women will allow homeless veterans who have slipped through the cracks to access the support they have earned through their service to our country.”
Other priorities reflected in the final bill include investments in the T-7A training aircraft, advancing the U.S. Air Force’s ability to retire the aging T-38, and the expansion of medical benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange who are later diagnosed with conditions related to their exposure.
The NDAA, which authorizes $732 billion in defense spending, includes several other wins:
- A 3 percent pay raise for military members
- New funding for COVID-19 response for servicemembers and their families
- $212 million in funding for military construction (MILCON) in San Diego: $105.5 million for Camp Pendleton, $63.5 million for Pier 6 and an additional $47 million to add two projects at Camp Pendleton
- New military housing protections, with increased accountability measures
- Expansion of parental leave for an additional 100,000 federal employees
- A mandate requiring federal law enforcement to display a name or other unique identifier when responding to cases of civil disobedience
- Enhanced diversity and inclusion provisions to help make the military more representative of the country
- New procedures to root out racism and extremism in the military
- Improved safeguards to protect federal employees from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace
- Increased funding for MQ-1 Gray Eagle and up to 16 MQ-9 Reaper, both made in San Diego
- Several provisions that guide the Department of Defense (DoD) to address climate change:
- Requires updates to the DoD climate change roadmap and a new report on the implementation of building codes to accommodate sea-level rise and other climate-related factors
- Adds an alternative fuel pilot program and increases the use of electric vehicles
- Sets goals to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 30 percent over 25 years
- Greater standards in energy savings for bases, as well as better tracking of energy usage
- Authorizes $40 million for Impact Aid program, which funds school districts with many military families like San Diego
- A new Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief Program (MTSERP) to provide needed funding to ports following natural disasters and emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic