O'Halleran Votes to Invest in Troops, National Security
WASHINGTON - Early this morning, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted to pass the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act out of Committee for consideration by the full House of Representatives. The legislative package, which allocates funds for military operations at home and abroad, includes several amendments introduced and supported by O’Halleran.
“The bipartisan NDAA that the Committee passed this morning invests in our troops and makes America more secure,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “It gives our military leaders the long-term strategic planning capabilities they need to complete critical missions that protect our nation, and it will give our troops a well-deserved raise.”
The bill includes three amendments introduced by Rep. O’Halleran that bolster career education for federal firefighting jobs at the Forest Service and BLM in the Transition Assistance Program, honor Native American servicemembers and contributions of tribal communities to the Armed Forces, and press the Navy to address challenges to recruitment and hiring of astronomers at the Naval Observatory in Flagstaff.
Additionally, the Committee approved an amendment introduced by O’Halleran and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) that strengthens oversight of TRICARE’s reimbursement for mental health care services and beneficiary access since the transition to HealthNet in the West region. An amendment by Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and O’Halleran to create a National Guard Regional Cyber Security Training Center Pilot Program was approved.
“I am grateful for the Committee’s bipartisan support of a number of my commonsense amendments that honor many veterans living in tribal communities throughout Arizona and across Indian Country, bolster servicemembers’ access to federal firefighting careers, and improve the Observatory’s ability to competitively recruit and retain the talent it needs to fulfill its critical mission,” continued O’Halleran. “I’m also glad for the strong support of my efforts with my colleagues to hold the new TRICARE contractors accountable and give our National Guard the tools it needs to combat cyber attacks.”
An additional O’Halleran amendment, which was narrowly defeated in a 30-31 vote, would have required the Department of Defense (DoD) to report to Congress on the use of military aircraft by senior administration officials who do not require the use of military travel.
“I am disappointed that the Committee chose to vote down my bipartisan amendment to hold our government officials accountable to the American people," continued O'Halleran. "The commonsense proposal would shine a light on the abuse of tax dollars by senior administration officials who use military aircraft for lavish, personal travel at the expense of the American people.”
The final bill includes proposals championed by O’Halleran, including a 2.8 percent pay raise for servicemembers, an independent National Commission on Military Aviation Safety to review aviation mishaps including those in Arizona, and prescription drug monitoring and counter-drug programs to combat the opioid epidemic. The bill now goes before the full House of Representatives for a vote.