WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 15, 2016) — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed 85-13 the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill includes more than $602 billion in funding for the military services and national security items in addition to requiring women between the ages of 18 and 26 to register for the Selective Service making them eligible for conscription if Congress should ever reinstate the draft.
U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services and Ranking Member of the Seapower Subcommittee, voted to approve the NDAA. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Hirono included $200 million to for Hawai‘i military installations, prevent cuts to Hawai‘i’s Impact Aid program, and direct the Department of Defense to bolster Hawai‘i’s missile defense systems. Hirono also included the Talia’s Law measure named for the 5-year-old Talia Williams, who died after months of abuse by her serviceman father and stepmother and requires DOD employees who interact with children to report suspected abuse to civilian authorities.
“I voted to approve the National Defense Authorization Act because, on balance, this legislation invests in our service members and strengthens our national security. I was particularly proud to secure nearly $200 million of investments in Hawaii’s military infrastructure,” Hirono said. “I remain concerned about changes the bill makes to the Department of Defense that would impact our force structure and locally based service commands.”
U.S. Senators’ Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in support of the Due Process Guarantee Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill, “Prohibition of the indefinite detention of citizens and lawful permanent residents” was introduced June 7.
The bill states that no citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except consistent with the Constitution and pursuant to an Act of Congress that expressly authorizes such imprisonment or detention. Another section states that a general authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority, on its own, shall not be construed to authorize the imprisonment or detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States. A third section refers to previous provisions and amends them to read that these sections shall not be construed to authorize the imprisonment or detention of a citizen of the United States, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, or any other person who is apprehended in the United States.’
The Senator blocked a vote on the amendment. Feinstein ended up voting for the NDAA. Paul and Lee did not.
The NDAA also contains a Indo-Asia-Pacific Rebalance in the final bill.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who did not vote on the bill, released a statement applauding provisions to better protect military whistleblowers-including sexual assault victims-against the retaliation they may face for reporting a crime by:
- Banning commanders from initiating retaliatory investigations against service members who blow the whistle;
- Providing an avenue for intermediate relief when a retaliatory action would cause significant hardship to the servicemember;
- Requiring the service Secretaries to report on corrective or disciplinary action taken against retaliators;
- Requiring the development and implementation of uniform training standards for Inspector General investigators;
- Requiring a Comptroller General review of the integrity of the Department of Defense whistleblower program.
And it would ensure that servicemembers-including whistleblowers-are able to receive fair and thorough consideration at the Boards for Correction of Military/Naval Records by:
- Instructing the Boards to obtain relevant medical or personnel records to ensure servicemembers are not turned away by military corrections boards simply because they are unable to obtain their military records; and
- Requiring the development and implementation of uniform training standards for Board members.