Wicker: Congress Sends Defense Bill to President’s Desk

Legislation Gives Troops a Pay Raise & Takes Base Closings Off the Table

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today voted in favor of legislation that will benefit Mississippi’s soldiers, veterans, military installations, and defense manufacturing. The conference report for the “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA), S. 2943, passed the Senate by a vote of 92-7. The bill now goes to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“This defense legislation keeps the focus where it belongs – our troops,” Wicker said. “It also offers bold reforms on defense acquisition, military health care, and security cooperation. Finally, the bill prohibits a new round of base closings. This is especially good news for our state’s nine military installations and the surrounding communities. By passing this legislation now, it will help our next commander-in-chief to hit the ground running.”

The legislation, approved by the House of Representatives last week, includes provisions supported by Wicker to maintain National Guard personnel levels and Army aviation force structure consistent with the findings and recommendations of the National Commission on the Future of the Army.

Wicker also supported proposals to extend the prohibition on the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States and to bar the Administration from closing the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay. Wicker toured the facility last month.

Here are a few specific ways that NDAA would impact Mississippi:

Tupelo: Supports the recommendations of the National Commission on the Future of the Army and recognizes the importance of the Army’s Apache helicopters.

Columbus/Meridian: Allows student pilots to have adequate training and flying hours at Columbus Air Force Base and Meridian Naval Air Station.

Gulf Coast: Funds the full construction of one DDG-51 Destroyer; advances funding for either a new LXR amphibious ship or a LPD-17 amphibious ship; and authorizes spending on a new LHA big-deck amphibious ship.

Selective Service: The proposal to require women to register for the draft was replaced with a National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, which will consider whether the draft should exist at all.

Troop Pay Raise: Service members will see a pay increase of 2.1 percent, the biggest pay increase in six years.