Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, today issued the following statement after Congress passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Hoeven worked to advance important priorities for North Dakota in the legislation including:
A 3.1 percent pay raise for servicemembers, the largest increase in nearly a decade.
A provision requiring the Air Force and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to regularly report on progress in developing a new ICBM and replacing its warhead. Hoeven’s legislation will help ensure the replacement for the Minuteman III remains on schedule.
The Air Traffic Controller (ATC) Hiring Reform Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation Hoeven introduced with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that enables the FAA to prioritize the hiring of veterans and graduates of FAA Certified Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) schools. The University of North Dakota was one of the first CTI schools in the nation, so the legislation benefits UND’s Air Traffic Control program and its graduates.
Authorized funding for upgrades to the B-52, including the procurement of new engines, as well as for the Global Hawk and its Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) payload.
"This is critical legislation for our servicemembers, providing them with better pay and supporting their good work in defense of our nation, including the UAS and nuclear missions in North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “Moreover, the bill includes my legislation to address the ATC shortage by reforming the FAA’s hiring process and allowing the agency to rely more on institutions like UND. Ultimately, this legislation is all about making our nation safer and more secure.”
Nuclear Missions at the Minot Air Force Base
In order to support the missions at the Minot Air Force Base, which is home to two legs of the nuclear triad, the FY2020 NDAA conference report authorizes:
- Nearly $350 million for upgrades to the B-52, including the procurement of new engines.
- $170 million to replace the UH-1N Huey helicopters that provide security for the ICBM silos.
- $5.5 million for the new helicopter facility at the Minot Air Force Base. The existing facilities will not accommodate the anticipated helicopter replacement.
- More than $700 million for the Long Range Stand Off (LRSO) missile to replace the aging Air Launched Cruise Missile carried on the B-52.
- Nearly $900 million for the new cruise missile nuclear warhead.
- More than $500 million to sustain the existing fleet of ICBMs.
- $552 million for the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) to replace the Minuteman III.
Hoeven cosponsored a measure in the bill to ensure the NNSA can produce enough warheads for the new ICBMs, important to the progress of the GBSD program.
- The bill also includes $112 million for the new ICBM nuclear warhead and more than $700 million for restoring the nation’s plutonium pit production capacity.
UAS Operations in Grand Forks & Fargo
The legislation includes the following provisions to support the UAS missions flown by the Air Force and North Dakota Air National Guard out of Grand Forks and Fargo:
- More than $240 million for the Global Hawk, including the RQ-4 Global Hawk program at Grand Forks Air Force Base.
- More than $75 million for the BACN payload flown on the Global Hawk.
- More than $750 million for MQ-9 Reapers, which are flown by the 119th Wing in Fargo and at Grand Sky UAS Research and Development Park in Grand Forks.
- Hoeven-cosponsored legislation requiring a report on China and Russia’s activities in the Arctic, helping build the case for more attention and investment by the U.S. in the Arctic region.
- Requires a Department of Defense report on how “Northern Tier” bases, including Minot and Grand Forks, can be utilized to advance U.S. interests in the Arctic region.
Support for Servicemembers and Veterans
In addition to providing a 3.1% raise for servicemembers, Hoeven worked to secure important provisions to support members of the military and Guard, as well as veterans, including:
- Extending TRICARE Reserve Select eligibility to all Guardsmen and Reservists, including those who are also federal employees, beginning January 1, 2030, similar to legislation Hoeven helped introduce earlier this year.
- The Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act, legislation Hoeven helped introduce to repeal the current military widow’s tax, ensuring that surviving military spouses receive their full survivor benefits.
- Correcting a disparity in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to protect veterans’ benefits when filing for bankruptcy, legislation which Hoeven cosponsored.
- Legislation Hoeven cosponsored to help ensure the children of National Guard and Reserve members have access to additional support services in school.