Congressman Joe Wilson issued the following statement on the signing into law of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023:
“This year’s NDAA represents the ongoing commitment my colleagues and I have to our national security, servicemembers, veterans, and their families. As a Senior Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am grateful for the opportunity to represent my country and the Second District of South Carolina on this critical legislation that advances peace through strength.
“This strong, bipartisan, bicameral bill reverses President Biden’s reckless cuts to our national security, and restores funding for procurement, missile defense, and military construction and housing projects. It provides the authorities and resources needed to ensure our military can defend our nation, meet ongoing challenges in the Global War on Terrorism, and modernize to deter and defeat China, Russia, and our other near-peer adversaries. It supports Ukraine while requiring the Department of Defense (DoD), State Department, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Inspector Generals to regularly carry out comprehensive reviews and audits of all assistance provided to Ukraine.
“To counteract the dangerous effects that Biden’s unprecedented inflation crisis is having on military readiness and servicemembers, this legislation provides a 4.6 percent pay raise, increases housing allowances, lowers prices at commissaries, and expands eligibility for low-income military families to receive an additional allowance to cover their basic needs.
“Military families are the strong foundation of the nation’s armed forces, which is why I am focused on ensuring that servicemembers and their families continue to receive the benefits they deserve. I am grateful that my bill, the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3) Improvement Act, was included in this year’s NDAA. Military children face unique challenges due to frequent moves and deserve the opportunity to have continuity of education.
“Additionally, this bill repeals the COVID-19 vaccination mandate on all active and reserve component servicemembers and ends servicemember separations for failure to take the COVID-19 vaccine that was negatively impacting the military’s recruitment and retention goals.
“This year’s NDAA supports the missions and communities of the Savannah River Site by authorizing additional funding for plutonium pit production through the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility and full funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), all of which I have worked to secure through the committee process.
“I am also grateful that the NDAA included language from the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 that will assist South Carolina in coming to a solution that will maintain the water level below the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam of 114.76 feet.
“Finally, I was grateful to champion continuing authorizations for defense research projects at South Carolina institutions of higher education including Clemson University, Benedict College, and the University of South Carolina. These world-class schools are actively engaged in technological research on projects such as autonomous logistics, automotive research, artificial intelligence, naval power and energy systems, and hypersonics that directly benefit DoD programs and enhance national security.
“As a veteran and father of four sons who have served in the military overseas, I appreciate these victories for our military and am committed to continuing to work for our servicemembers and their families. I am thankful to have advanced this important, bipartisan legislation alongside my colleagues in the House and Senate.”
Highlights of the FY23 NDAA:
Repeals the COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
Rescinds the COVID-19 vaccination mandate on all active and reserve component servicemembers
Ends servicemember separations for failure to take the COVID-19 vaccine
Savannah River Site (SRS)
Accelerates funding for the modernization of our nuclear triad by providing full funding for the missions of the Savannah River Site, including an additional $500M for the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility
Includes full funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) for the communities of the Savannah River Site
Support for Military Families
Supports a 4.6 percent pay increase for servicemembers
Provides additional housing allowances for military families to counteract the skyrocketing cost of rent
Authorizes additional funding to reduce costs of food and other necessities at military commissaries
Expands eligibility for Basic Needs Allowance for low-income servicemembers supporting a family
Extends military recruitment and retention bonuses and special pay authorities
Permanently reauthorizes reimbursement of spouse professional relicensing fees due to servicemember change of station
Allows DoD to reimburse military families for certain childcare expenses associated with servicemember change of station orders
Includes Congressman Wilson’s Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3) Improvement Act
Directs the DoD to work with states to improve existing programs that assist military families with educational tasks and associated decisions during military moves to ensure military children receive seamless educational opportunities when transferring between states
Military Readiness and Deterring Adversaries
Reverses Biden’s disastrous cuts to readiness and modernization priorities by adding $45 billion to Biden’s dangerously inadequate defense budget topline
This prevents our military from being shortchanged as they balance the Global War on Terrorism and other emerging threats while modernizing critical warfighting capabilities
Includes Congressman Wilson’s amendment to prohibit the DoD from providing any funds directly or indirectly to the Iraqi Shia Islamist Badr Organization
The Badr Organization is an armed resistance group which operates under the indirect and direct control of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a terrorist organization.
Creates the role of an Assistant Secretary of State for Subnational Diplomacy as introduced in the City and State Diplomacy Act, which Congressman Wilson co-led with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA)
The Stop Russian GOLD Act of 2022, which Congressman Wilson introduced with Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), includes language that prohibits any American from financial interactions with a foreigner who trades in Russian gold
Sanctions anyone interacting with Russian gold and prohibits those foreign nationals engaging in these financial activities from gaining U.S. visas
Continues funding for the deployment of the National Guard to the Southern U.S. border
Reauthorizes authority for DoD to support U.S. law enforcement to counter the flow of narcotics, human trafficking, and transnational criminal organizations including cartels
South Carolina Military Installations
Invests $91.6M in South Carolina military installations by funding:
$37.6M for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island’s Recruit Barracks #1
$38.3M for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island’s Recruit Barracks #2
$4.8M for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island’s Ambulatory Care Center Replacement
$10M for Shaw Air Force Base’s Radar Approach Control System (RAPCON) Facility
$900K for Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort’s Fuel Pier Replacement
Includes language that authorizes the transfer of unused land from Joint Base Charleston (JBC) to the City of North Charleston in order to open the area to economic development and reduce JBC’s maintenance requirement
Supports military aircraft in South Carolina at Shaw Air Force Base, McEntire Joint National Guard Base, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, and Joint Base Charleston by funding the F-35 joint strike fighter and AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Blackhawk, CH-47 Chinook helicopters.