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Udall Provisions to Strengthen National Security Included in National Defense Authorization Act
The annual National Defense Authorization Act establishes defense policy, budgets and priorities for the U.S. military, and as a key member of the Armed Services Committee — and chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces — Udall successfully fought to include a series of cost-saving amendments that strengthen Colorado's role in our national security. The bill passed out of committee by a 25-1 vote.
"Coloradans have seen firsthand how having military C-130s in the air have helped firefighters save lives and homes during the past several record-breaking wildfire seasons. I will keep fighting to ensure these aerial firefighting assets at Peterson Air Force Base are ready, equipped and able to meet the demands of the upcoming wildfire season," Udall said. "Our country also needs to eliminate our dependence on Russian-built engines to launch our military satellites into space. I've included provisions in the bill that require the Defense Department to develop a plan to produce a U.S.-built rocket engine by 2019. This is a necessary effort that will boost both our national security and our national pride, and I anticipate that Colorado's thriving aerospace industry will make significant contributions to the development of this engine."
Udall fought to include provisions in the FY2015 NDAA that would:
- Authorize $100 million for the Defense Department to develop a plan to produce a domestic liquid rocket engine program that reduces our dependence on Russian-built engines to launch our satellites into space.
- Authorize the development of on-base infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles, including natural gas vehicles, which will help bases cut fuel costs by using electric and natural gas vehicles in the military's non-tactical fleets.
- Authorize the Defense Department to support operations and task forces targeting human trafficking, wildlife poaching, drug and weapons smuggling, and other illegal activities that provide billions in funding to terrorist groups.
- Require the secretary of the Air Force to submit a report detailing the impacts of planned reductions to the C-130 fleet equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems. That report must then be reviewed by the Government Accountability Office and submitted for evaluation to Congress before any C-130s can be transferred. The Air Force has proposed removing four of the 12 MAFFS-equipped C-130 aircraft currently stationed at Peterson Air Force Base and eliminating a number of personnel assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing, and Udall wants to ensure the firefighting mission will not be affected by any cuts.
- Urge the Air Force to complete its study and implement its findings to improve the safety of aircraft ejection seats. This provision follows a Udall amendment in last year's NDAA that addressed potential ejection seat safety issues after an Air Force F-16 pilot was killed in an ejection sequence. This provision would help ensure the safety of F-16 pilots at Buckley Air Force Base.
Udall also secured a provision to add transparency and certainty to decisions on compensation and access to benefits for the Cold War nuclear workers suffering from illnesses as a result of their exposure to radiation. His provision requires the president to establish an independent advisory panel comprised of scientific, medical, legal, worker and worker advocate communities that would review decisions made through the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) program to better represent the nuclear workers. Udall has been fighting on the behalf of nuclear workers for years.
"Thanks to the hard work, dedication and sacrifices of Colorado's nuclear workers — who put their lives on the line during the Cold War — our nation ultimately prevailed," Udall added. "We need to ensure those who are suffering from illnesses as a result of their exposure to radiation have access to the benefits they have earned. It's the least we can do to honor the extraordinary contributions of these patriotic Americans."Udall has successfully fought for a number of provisions to be included in past NDAAs, such as restricting the Army's authority to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in southern Colorado in FY14; ensuring Colorado's military bases and installations remain a critical part of the state's economy, workforce and community; and helping the military save money and lives by reducing its reliance on foreign fossil fuel in FY12.