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Sewell votes for National Defense Authorization Act

It includes a pay raise for service members, research funding for HBCUs, and investments in Alabama’s military installations.

The U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. STOCK

Thursday, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, AL-07, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted in favor of the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Rep. Sewell previously opposed the House bill after extreme MAGA Republicans hijacked it with amendments attacking diversity and inclusion and undermining access to reproductive health care for service members. Sewell and her Democratic colleagues successfully worked to strip these harmful provisions from the bill. 

The FY24 NDAA includes a 5.2 percent pay raise for service members, record research funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and major investments in Alabama’s military installations. It passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 310 to 118. Having already passed the Senate, it will now make its way to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. 

“As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the representative for critical military installations in Alabama, I take very seriously my responsibility to provide our service members with the tools and support they need to keep our nation safe,”said Rep. Sewell. “Though I was profoundly disappointed when extreme Republicans hijacked the previous version of this bill, I am grateful that Democrats successfully stripped out their amendments attacking diversity and reproductive health care. With these provisions removed, I was proud to continue the solemn tradition of supporting the NDAA and our national defense.”

“I am absolutely thrilled that we secured a number of key wins in this year’s NDAA including a 5.2 percent pay raise for Alabama’s 37,000 service members and a record $150 million in research funding for our nation’s HBCUs and MSIs,” continued Sewell. “The talented students, faculty, and researchers at these cherished institutions are an asset to our national security, and we must continue to invest in their success.” 

Passed annually by Congress, the NDAA authorizes funding levels for the Department of Defense (DoD) and allows the Armed Forces to pay, train, and equip U.S. service members, support America’s allies around the world, and carry out essential national security operations. 

Rep. Sewell and Congressional Democrats successfully removed Republicans’ harmful amendments eliminating the Chief Diversity Officer, limiting the discussion of race, and restricting access to reproductive health care for service women. 

Rep. Sewell secured key wins in the FY24 NDAA:

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  • Provides Record Research Funding for HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) – The NDAA includes an amendment that Rep. Sewell co-sponsored to boost research funding for HBCUs and MSIs to historic levels. In total, this year’s NDAA includes $150 million to support cutting-edge research programs at HBCUs and MSIs, $50 million more than the President’s request and $18 million more than the FY23 NDAA.
  • Provides a Pay Raise to Service Members – The NDAA includes a 5.2 percent pay raise for the over 37,000 service members in Alabama, expands eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance, and makes significant investments in military family housing and child development centers. 
  • Blocks the Move of SPACECOM Headquarters to Colorado – The NDAA blocks money to acquire, build, plan or design a new Space Command Headquarters until after June 2024, when the DoD Inspector General and Government Accountability Office have finished reviews into the decision to keep Space Command in Colorado.
  • Authorizes $122 Million for Military Construction Projects in the 7th District – The NDAA authorizes $65 million for Military Family Housing at Maxwell and $57 million for a new Army Reserve Center in Birmingham. 
  • Modernizes Alabama’s Air National Guard Facilities – The NDAA includes Rep. Sewell’s amendment directing the Secretary of the Air Force to brief the Armed Services Committee on facility modernization plans for Air National Guard installations in Alabama including the 117th Air Refueling Wing in Birmingham.
  • Recognizes Air Force Professional Development Education at Maxwell Air Force Base – Thanks to a request submitted by Rep. Sewell, the NDAA acknowledges the important role Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base plays in training our brightest Air Force leaders, paving the way for innovative research, and advancing USAF combat operations.
  • Expands DoD Partnership with HBCUs – The NDAA includes Rep. Sewell’s amendment to strengthen and expand partnerships between DoD and our nation’s HBCUs. The amendment directs the Air Force to brief the House Armed Services Committee on how it plans to partner with HBCUs to leverage their expertise in the areas of cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and Additive Manufacturing.
  • Invests in New and Existing Aircraft – The NDAA authorizes $65 million for additional MH-139 helicopters for Maxwell Air Force Base and prohibits the retirement of KC-135 refueling tankers, preserving the 117th Air National Guard’s footprint.
  • Expands Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Programs at HBCUs – The NDAA includes a provision directing the Secretary of the Air Force to submit a report to the House Committee on Armed Services that includes an assessment of the feasibility of expanding Air Force ROTC programs at HBCUs, the cost of such an expansion to HBCUs, and the number of HBCUs that qualify for an Air Force ROTC program.
  • Tackles Hunger Among Military Families – The NDAA includes an amendment cosponsored by Rep. Sewell to explore the process of improving the certification process for military families accessing free- and reduced-price school meals.
  • Combats Breast Cancer – The NDAA includes an amendment cosponsored by Rep. Sewell requiring the Secretary of Defense to brief the Armed Services Committee on DoD’s efforts to screen for breast cancer among TRICARE beneficiaries.

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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