WASHINGTON, D.C.—Provisions, Rep Rick Larsen (WA-02) successfully secured in June to support local military bases, reduce government waste, and boost nuclear oversight passed the U.S. House on a 344-81 vote as part of the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018.
“By supporting Washington’s military bases and families, accelerating the Department of Defense’s technological modernization and improving nuclear oversight, this bill takes important steps in the right direction,” said Larsen, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. “At the same time, I am disappointed the House is again calling for an increase in spending without developing a responsible plan for funding that increase.”
Supporting Local Communities
Pilot safety remains a major problem with the EA-18G Growler. Spurred by Larsen and others, the House authorized an additional $10 million above the budget request for development of improved pilot sensor technology in order to study and address hypoxia and related conditions.
Larsen also secured resources for the Navy to address groundwater contamination resulting from the use of fire suppressants. The bill includes an additional $30 million for Navy perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)/ perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) remediation. It also authorizes a robust study of the health effects of PFOA/PFOS exposure.
Continuing a long history of advocating for Impact Aid, a program that provides funding to school districts that educate large numbers of military-connected students, Larsen spearheaded an amendment to increase resources for Impact Aid from $30 to $50 million.
Reducing Government Waste
Larsen led a push in the NDAA for the Department of Defense to accelerate its use of high-tech bar codes. By marking parts and other assets with unique identifiers, the Department of Defense can better manage inventory, ensure spare parts are where they need to be, and improve management of its supply chain. Ultimately, Larsen’s provision will help reduce waste and increase oversight of inventory.
At Larsen’s urging, the NDAA reaffirms the committee’s support for accelerating the Department of Defense’s adoption of cloud computing in order to save money, increase flexibility, and enhance security. An amendment offered in committee by Larsen also encourages the Department of Defense to explore the benefits of large scale cloud computing for enhanced analytic capability.
Larsen also pressed the Department of Defense to advance its understanding of the next generation of threats deployed forces face.
His amendment directed the Department of Defense to brief Congress on the drone threats the U.S. military faces overseas and emerging technologies to counter them, including directed energy and trained raptors. The briefing will include an analysis of host nation regulations, and what restrictions this places on self-defense. Larsen also asked for a briefing on technologies that can remotely sense multiple types of improvised explosive devices.
With the nation currently modernizing nuclear weapons and technology, Larsen pushed for increased oversight of this costly undertaking.
Larsen successfully included an amendment to require the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to annually assess whether the agency’s plans are affordable. According to a 2017 GAO report, the NNSA frequently overestimated its future budgets – meaning nuclear modernization plans may not be executable.
Larsen also included an amendment to extend the current prohibition on developing mobile inter-continental ballistic missiles through the end of FY 19.
During floor consideration, the House unanimously approved an amendment authored by Rep. Larsen to create a plan to detect proliferation of nuclear material.
Lastly, Larsen pushed for an amendment authored by Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01), to increase accountability for child abusers. The amendment would close a loophole which currently shields military retirement pay from being paid to victims of child abuse and help ensure justice for survivors of child abuse.