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Blumenthal Statement on Senate Approval of NDAA Conference Report for FY2016

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after the Senate passed by a vote of 70-27 the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016.

This vital measure preserves our national security in an uncertain era of unprecedented threats and delivers on the support so necessary to sustain our service members. I am pleased that several provisions I helped craft are preserved in this legislation, including $5.3 billion for Virginia Class Submarines, $8.5 billion for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, and $11 million for a new Connecticut National Guard construction project. It also requires financial literacy training for troops and a joint uniform formulary between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to maintain medical care as they transition. Further reforms include an expansion of the military’s compensation and benefits system by allowing the 83 percent of service members not previously eligible for any military retirement benefits to participate in a retirement plan for the first time. The bill reflects our commitments to assist our allies with defense cooperation, specifically Israel with advanced missile defense and Ukraine with increased lethal aid. 

As we move forward with these vital programs and policies, I remain deeply concerned that this authorization does not remove the broader, sequestration-imposed barriers to addressing urgent national priorities or resolve the Republican-imposed budget cuts, but rather turns a blind eye to those restrictions on the defense side only. Congress must act to fully fund the vital federal programs that will keep America secure—the safety of our nation cannot be addressed through national security means alone. I will continue to fight for repealing sequestration to ensure that our nation’s key priorities are addressed.”