Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today welcomed Senate passage of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains a number of Feinstein’s legislative proposals benefitting California on both public lands and military issues.
“I am pleased by the passage of several public lands provisions affecting California,” Feinstein said. “Overall, this bill means California can preserve potential wilderness areas, pursue commonsense land exchanges and commemorate the history of our national parks.”
The following legislation was sponsored or cosponsored by Feinstein and was included in the NDAA:
- Inyo National Forest Land Exchange Act: This bill facilitates a land exchange between the operators of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and the Inyo National Forest. The land exchange will enable the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to acquire the 21 acres it currently leases from the Forest Service so that it can make much needed long-term improvements to its facilities. In exchange, the Forest Service would receive approximately 1,500 acres of environmentally valuable private lands and cash payments equivalent to the value of the ski resort lands. This win-win solution benefits the local tourism economy and protects important natural resources.
- Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act: This legislation authorizes a study that will determine the best way to commemorate the Buffalo Soldiers, the Army’s first all-African American units. In particular, it seeks to honor the critical role they played in the early years of the national park system, including Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, where they essentially served as our nation’s first park rangers.
- China Lake Naval Weapons Station Boundary Adjustment: This amendment authorizes the withdrawal of approximately 12,000 acres of public lands sought by the Department of Defense for use by the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, while also preserving a roughly equal amount of adjacent public lands that have long been proposed to be designated as wilderness area additions.
- Cabin Fee Act: This legislation, introduced with other western senators, restructures the system for assessing annual leasing fees paid by cabin owners residing on Forest Service land. The new system will eliminate radical increases in lease payments so that cabin owners unable to afford such dramatic increases are not forced to forfeit their properties.
Feinstein also supported other California public lands provisions in the NDAA including the Trinity County, Calif. Land Exchange and the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge Land Exchange.
“This bipartisan piece of legislation is good for our national security and our men and women in uniform,” Feinstein said. “I’m glad a few outstanding military land-use issues in California have been resolved through this legislation.”
The following legislation, sponsored or supported by Feinstein, was included in the NDAA:
- Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial: Legislative language negotiated by Feinstein directs the Secretary of Defense to sell the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego, Calif. to the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association. It is hoped that this provision and subsequent sale will end the ongoing controversy regarding the memorial while preserving the land as a privately-owned veteran’s memorial in perpetuity.
- Air Force Land Conveyance in Norwalk, Calif.: This amendment allows a conveyance from the former Air Force Norwalk Defense Fuel Supply site to the City of Norwalk. The town intends to transform the former Air Force land into a community park.
As part of the ongoing efforts to confront and defeat ISIL, Senator Feinstein strongly supports the Overseas Contingency Operations funding authorization, as well as the authorities granted to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces, Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga.
Senator Feinstein also supported two space-related provisions included in the NDAA. They are provisions increasing the number of competitive space launches within the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, and a bill authorizing $220 million to begin developing a U.S.-made replacement for the Russian-made RD-180 engine that is currently used by the United Launch Alliance.
Feinstein expressed disappointment that provisions regarding the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees essentially preserved the status quo. Legislation supported by Feinstein—and approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee—that would have allowed the transfer of detainees to the United States for trial or critical medical treatment did not make it into the final bill.
Finally, Feinstein welcomed funding to purchase additional F-18 aircraft, body armor for our service members and additional Iron Dome batteries for Israel.