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    Carbajal: Final Bipartisan Defense Policy Bill Includes Key Support for Central Coast Military Families, Vandenberg SFB

    President Biden signed measure crafted with help of Carbajal to raise pay and housing allowances for servicemembers, expand research partnerships with local universities, extend support for FireGuard program

    Congressman Salud Carbajal shared that the final version of the Fiscal Year 2023 defense policy bill, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this month and was signed into law by President Biden today, includes important support for the Central Coast’s military families and numerous provisions that he pushed to include in the new law.

    The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23 NDAA) includes multiple provisions championed by Congressman Carbajal in his role on the House Armed Services Committee that will support operations at Vandenberg Space Force Base, promote the welfare of U.S. servicemembers and military families, and invest in research partnerships with Central Coast colleges and universities.

    “Over my past three terms in Congress, I’ve had the privilege to work every year with my colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee to craft bipartisan legislation that invests in keeping Americans safe today and in the future; and that is what we have done again this year,” said Rep. Carbajal. “I’m proud that this bill also reflects the values and priorities of the Central Coast, its communities, and its servicemembers. It supports our cornerstone installation, Vandenberg Space Force Base, and the military families that call our area home–as well as the research institutions that are innovating to keep the United States on the cutting edge and protecting its interests around the globe.”

    In addition, the new law includes standalone measures previously co-authored by Rep. Carbajal to support and reauthorize Coast Guard operations, expand health benefits for federal firefighters, and update maritime liability laws in the wake of the Conception boat fire.

    The following provisions are included in the 2023 NDAA:

    Support for Vandenberg Space Force Base Operations and Future Endeavors on the Central Coast

    • Language supporting the ‘Range of the Future’ initiative at Vandenberg, which will expand commercial space launch opportunities and provide economic benefits to the region, expressing Congress’ support for the need to build on the report secured by Carbajal’s efforts in last year’s NDAA.
    • Rep. Carbajal also commissioned a study to ensure that military airspace routes can interact safely with on and offshore wind installations, including the future sites off Morro Bay, sold at auction earlier this month.

    Promoting the Welfare of Servicemembers and Central Coast Military Families

    • The FY23 NDAA supports a historic $4.6% pay raise for U.S. servicemembers.
    • Adds funds for the DoD to increase service member housing allowance by 2% and requires a report on a more transparent, fair, and flexible way to calculate the basic allowance for housing.
    • Increases funds for the commissaries to help offset higher prices.
    • Establishes a five-year pilot program to reimburse members of the Armed Forces for certain childcare costs incident to a permanent change of station or assignment, and authorizes childcare fee reductions for children of military child development center employees
    • Requires independent trained investigators outside of the immediate chain of command to investigate claims of sexual harassment and places sexual harassment and other offenses under the jurisdiction of the Special Trial
    • Requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Inspector General, in coordination with the Department of Defense, to report on procedures being followed to assist veterans in obtaining or reconstructing service and medical records that were damaged or destroyed in the July 1973 fire at the National Records Processing Center.
      • This report builds on Carbajal’s efforts to support veterans whose records were lost in the fire.

    Enhances Wildfire Safety

    • Extends the National Guard support for the FireGuard program until 2029.
      • The FireGuard program utilizes Department of Defense resources to help local jurisdictions detect and monitor wildfires. Rep. Carbajal successfully fought to provide a long-term authorization of the program in 2021. Previously, the program had to be reauthorized on a yearly basis.
    • Language to allow the Department of Defense to transfer aircraft to other departments for the purposes of aiding search and rescue operations or emergency operations related to wildfires

    Support for Partnerships with Local Universities

    • UCSB: Rep. Carbajal secured increased funding for research programs that are conducted in partnership with U.C. Santa Barbara and other universities: an additional $4 million for biotechnology research and a $9 million increase for cold and complex environment-sensing research.
    • Cal Poly SLO: Carbajal also supported a $10 million increase for aerospace engineering research, which is done in partnership with Air Force Research Lab and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

    Other Measures Included in FY23 NDAA

    The defense policy package signed by President Biden today also includes the following bills co-authored by Rep. Carbajal:

    • The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022, crafted in part by Rep. Carbajal in his role as Chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee
    • The Federal Firefighters Fairness Act, which ensures federal firefighters receive the same access to job-related disability and retirement benefits as state, county, and municipal firefighters.
    • The Small Passenger Vessel Liability Fairness Act, which updates maritime liability laws to help victims of boating disasters, a reform inspired by the 2019 Conception boat fire.

    The FY23 NDAA also:

    • Authorizes $800 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which provides support and assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces
    • Authorizes the Secretary of Defense to establish a voluntary pilot program to promote the safe storage of personally owned firearms
    • Requires transition of non-tactical vehicle fleets at the Department of Defense to electric or zero-emission vehicles by 2035

    Additional details and a summary of all the provisions included in the FY23 NDAA can be found here.

    Rep. Salud Carbajal
    Rep. Salud Carbajalhttps://carbajal.house.gov/
    Congressman Salud Carbajal represents the 24th Congressional District of California. The District includes the entirety of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, and a portion of Ventura County. Salud sits on the House Committee on Armed Services, the House Committee on Agriculture, and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he was elected to serve as the Vice Chair.
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