Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement on the inclusion of several priorities in the House’s National Defense Authorization Act:
“I’m pleased to announce that several bills and amendments introduced by my office were included in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“California priorities are well-represented in the bill, including the transfer of the Mare Island Naval Cemetery to the Department of Veterans Affairs and a boat safety bill that will prevent tragedies like the Conception boat fire from occurring again.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues to include these provisions in the final version of the bill and sending them to the president’s desk to be signed into law.”
Boat Safety following the Conception Boat Fire
The bill includes requirements from the Small Passenger Vessel Safety Act, a Feinstein bill establishing new safety measures for small passenger vessels in the aftermath of the Conception boat fire in waters off California’s Santa Cruz Island earlier this year. Representatives Salud Carbajal and Julia Brownley (both D-Calif.) introduced the companion bill in the House.
“This bill will prevent tragedies like the Conception boat fire from occurring again. Hundreds of boats with safety concerns just like the Conception are operating right now, in U.S. waters. These commonsense safety precautions should’ve been in place a long time ago. I’m pleased to see our bill included in the NDAA and I thank Representatives Carbajal and Brownley for getting this done.”
Key reforms in the bill:
- Requires boats like the Conception to have no less than two means of escape to different parts of the vessel.
- Mandates safety standards for the handling and storage of phones, cameras and other electronic devices with lithium ion batteries.
- Establishes stricter standards for interconnected fire alarm systems.
Mare Island Naval Cemetery
Feinstein-authored legislation was included in the NDAA to restore the historic Mare Island Naval Cemetery, the oldest military cemetery on the West Coast. The legislation would transfer control of the cemetery, which has fallen into disrepair, from the City of Vallejo to the Department of Veterans Affairs to faciliate much-needed repairs and provide ongoing maintaince. Representative Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) introduced the House companion.
- Rim of the Valley: The bill includes legislation introduced by Feinstein to expand the boundaries of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation area by 191,000 acres based on the findings of a 2016 National Park Service study. This expansion would improve access to nature for recreational and educational purposes in one of most densely populated urban areas of the country in and around Los Angeles County. 47% of Californians or 6% of the U.S. population live within 2 hours of this area. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced the legislation in the House.
- Big Bear land exchange: The bill includes an amendment introduced by Feinstein in the Senate that authorizes an equitable exchange of 73 acres of federal land in the San Bernardino National Forest for 71 acres owned by San Bernardino County to build a timber and resource recycling facility. Representatives Paul Cook (R-Calif.) and Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) introduced the amendment in the House.
- Modoc land transfer: The bill requires the Air Force to transfer unused land in the Modoc National Forest to Modoc County for clean energy development, which would create jobs in the area. The Air Force and Forest Service support the transfer. Feinstein originally introduced an amendment in the Senate to require the transfer and Representative Doug LaMalfa (D-Calif.) introduced the amendment in the House.
- Defense Media Activity: The bill requires the Defense Department to submit a report on consolidation within the Defense Media Activity program as it transitions from satellite technology to internet streaming. This transition could jeopardize 300 jobs at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. The amendment was introduced in the House by Representative Mark Takano (D-Calif.).