Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which included several key California priorities.
“The National Defense Authorization Act is one of the most important bills we vote on every year.” Senator Feinstein said. “I’m pleased we were able to come to an agreement to authorize defense spending. Our military deserves our unwavering support and today’s vote shows they have it. I’m also pleased that several provisions important for California were included in the final bill.”
The bill includes provisions from the Ensuring Safe Housing for our Military Act, which was authored by Senator Feinstein and introduced with Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in response to a Reuters investigation. The provisions will address serious health and environmental problems in military housing provided by private companies.
“Our service members risk their lives to protect our country, but too many of them live in hazardous conditions right here at home, many with their families,” Senator Feinstein said. “Private contractors must be held accountable when they fail to maintain safe conditions in military housing, and military leadership should have the tools to enforce accountability. I’m glad to see this bill pass and I look forward to military families having the clean, safe housing they deserve.”
Key reforms in the bill:
- Withholds basic allowance for housing payments to private housing contractors if a service member and contractor are in dispute over housing conditions.
- Withholds incentive fees to contractors if they fail to remedy health or environmental hazards.
- Requires contractors to pay for relocation costs if a service member must temporarily leave their home due to an environmental or health hazard.
- Requires contractors to provide service members access to their electronic work order systems so that tenants can track the progress of their requests.
- Requires the development of common credentials across the military for health and safety inspectors.
The bill places nearly 2,000 acres into trust for Indian communities in California, including 511 acres for the Lytton tribe in Sonoma County and 1,427 acres for the Chumash tribe in Santa Barbara County.
“I’m pleased the Lytton and Chumash tribes were able to work with local counties to reach a mutually acceptable agreement establishing tribal homelands,” said Senator Feinstein. “This is the culmination of many years of work by all parties involved and I look forward to seeing these communities develop.”
Earlier this year, Senators Harris and Feinstein urged their colleagues to include provisions for both tribes in the final defense bill.
- West Los Angeles National Guard Armory: The bill includes legislation authored by Senator Feinstein to allow the armory to operate as a year-round homeless shelter with 150 beds. For the past 10 years, the armory has been used as a temporary overnight shelter only during the winter months due to a stipulation in the armory’s 1957 deed, which this bill modifies.
- Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake: The bill authorizes $1.1 billion for emergency repairs following significant damage from two major earthquakes earlier this year. Feinstein also secured $2.369 billion in funding for military construction and an additional $627.5 million in the final defense appropriations bill. Earlier this month, Feinstein called on her Senate colleagues to appropriate the full amount required to meet the Navy’s rebuilding needs.
- Breast Cancer Research Stamp: The bill extends legislation authored by Senator Feinstein to reauthorize the semi-postal stamp, which directs 10 cents from every sale to fund breast cancer research. More than 1 billion stamps have been sold since its creation in 1998, raising more than $90 million for critical breast cancer research.