June 29, 2017

Eight Major Warren Legislative Priorities Incorporated into Senate Defense Authorization Act

NDAA Clears Senate Armed Services Committee Including Versions of Eight Major Warren Proposals

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, successfully fought for the inclusion of eight major legislative priorities focused on improving the lives of servicemembers, their families, and the people who work for the Department of Defense, as well as provisions addressing key national security concerns, into the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In addition to these eight major legislative priorities, Senator Warren also secured a number of provisions vital to Massachusetts, including $93.4 million to fund military construction projects in the Commonwealth, an additional $45 million in funding of the U.S. Army's basic and applied research accounts, and a series of amendments supporting key Department of Defense (DOD) operations across the state. 

The legislation passed out of the full committee yesterday afternoon. 
"In my first year as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I've focused on supporting our men and women in uniform and on strengthening our national security," said Senator Warren.  "While they're deployed, they need people fighting for them at home. From making sure our servicemembers receive the pay raises they deserve to protecting them from sexual harassment online, these amendments will have a direct and positive impact on the lives of our men and women in uniform. They also will take steps to bolster our national security by supporting America's defense workforce, by improving monitoring of civilian casualties, and by better assisting victims of terrorism."

The eight proposals are outlined below:
Securing Pay Raises for Servicemembers 
Senator Warren worked with Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to include an amendment in the bill that will help ensure that in future years, servicemembers receive the pay raises they are entitled to. This amendment is modeled on a portion of the Leadership Recognition Act, introduced earlier this year by Senators Ernst and Warren.
Protecting Servicemembers from Sexual Harassment  

The committee-passed bill makes it an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to share private images of another individual without their consent. This change is similar to the Protecting Servicemembers Online Act, a bipartisan bill previously introduced by Senators Warren and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) in response to the Marines United incident that will provide military prosecutors with more tools to combat sexual harassment online.
Limiting Inappropriate Debt Collector Actions Against Servicemembers
Senator Warren successfully included an amendment that requires DOD to review and update its policies regarding harassment of and contact with servicemembers by debt collectors. This proposal, which is reflected in Senator Warren's Servicemember Debt Collection Reform Act, comes on the heels of a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about debt collectors taking advantage of servicemembers in a variety of ways, including contacting commanding officers inappropriately, and alleging that servicemembers owe disputed or imaginary debts.
Countering Disinformation Targeting Military Personnel
Senator Warren, along with Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), successfully included an amendment in the bill requiring DOD to report annually on Russian efforts to target military personnel in disinformation campaigns. Senator Warren also introduced an amendment requiring DOD to report when retired senior military officials request a waiver from emoluments requirements in order to receive payment from a foreign government. Both provisions are reflected in Senator Warren's Countering Foreign Interference with our Armed Forces Act.
Preventing and Treating Gambling Disorders in the Military
Senator Warren successfully included an amendment in the bill that will require DOD to begin tracking gambling disorder in its health assessments, enabling the Department to better support servicemembers dealing with gambling disorder. This amendment reflects Senator Warren's Preventing and Treating Gambling Disorder in the Military Act, and follows an amendment offered by Senator Warren and adopted in the FY2016 NDAA proposing a Government Accountability Office study on the issue.
Supporting Victims of Terrorism and Maintaining Military Medical Readiness

Senator Warren secured an amendment that elevates the priority ranking for civilian victims of terror, making it easier for non-military individuals with traumatic injuries to receive treatment in military hospitals, while also allowing treatment facilities to maintain military medical readiness and provide training opportunities for the next generation of military healthcare providers.  This provision reflects the intent of the Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes Act, which was introduced by Senators Warren and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in response to the experiences of Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes after the Boston Marathon bombing.
Improving Worker Safety for DOD Contractors
Senator Warren successfully included an amendment to the bill that would require DOD contracting officers to consider workplace safety and health violations when evaluating the responsibility of a prospective DOD contractor. This amendment is similar to her Contractor Accountability and Workplace Safety Act and continues her work on holding federal contractors accountable for labor violations, which also includes a report on abuses among large contractors and a letter to the Department of Justice requesting a criminal investigation into particularly egregious violations by a Navy shipbuilder that resulted in several deaths.
Tracking Civilian Casualties
Senator Warren secured an amendment requiring DOD to submit an annual report detailing civilian casualties caused as a result of U.S. military operations, an effort to improve transparency and hold the Trump Administration accountable for its actions overseas. This reporting provision is also reflected in Senator Warren's Preventing Civilian Casualties in Military Operations Act, and follows a 2014 speech she delivered on the negative consequences civilian deaths have on U.S. national security.