WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over 45 major provisions offered by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, were adopted in the House-passed version of the annual defense policy bill.
“This year’s House passage of the FY22 NDAA is a fundamental shift in our military culture—one of historic proportions. After a decade of fighting to remove cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment from the chain of command, and seeing hundreds of thousands of survivors further victimized and failed by the military justice system, we are finally taking this earth-shaking leap forward and making clear to all that sexual violence has no place in our fighting forces,” Chair Speier said. “We are also making clear that readiness means ensuring those who put their lives on the line in defense of our freedoms have the support and services they need and deserve. That includes providing parental leave and child care, as well as enhancing health care coverage and options, ensuring the military follows through on its promises to integrate women at all levels, and strengthening protections against waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of taxpayer money. It also means ensuring the United States continues to serve as a beacon of hope for those fleeing repression, persecution, and almost certain death, as is the case with the brave Afghan women refugees fighting for their lives and freedom. I could not be more proud of this year’s effort and urge my colleagues in the Senate to quickly ratify and retain all provisions in the House-passed FY22 NDAA.”
Five floor amendments authored by Chair Speier were adopted by the House, including:
- Help Afghan Refugees at High Risk: Removes barriers to the U.S. refugee system for vulnerable Afghans, including women leaders, journalists, public servants, and NGO workers, improves the processing of applications for humanitarian and immigration relief, and facilitates evacuations out of Afghanistan. This amendment includes the text of H.R. 4736, the Improving Access for Afghan Refugees Act.
- Strengthen the Role of Military Gender Advisors: Requires DoD to report to Congress on its plan to standardize and better integrate gender advisors and women, peace, and security principles across organizations within the Defense Department.
- Enhance TRICARE Coverage of Prenatal Testing: Requires TRICARE to provide preconception and prenatal carrier genetic screening tests at the option of any beneficiary (currently only available to beneficiaries with a high-risk pregnancy), aligning TRICARE’s coverage policies with typical large-employer health plans.
- Slow Down the Revolving Door Between Government and Lobbying: Extends the “cooling off” period, in which former senior U.S. government officials are barred from lobbying their former agencies, from 1 year to 2 years after separation from federal employment.
- Improve Enforcement of Existing Ethics Requirements for DoD Employees: Requires defense contractors to confirm that their employees who previously worked for DoD comply with restrictions on lobbying activities.
Chair Speier’s provisions in the base text of H.R. 4350 (the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022), as reported by the Armed Services Committee, include:
- Independent Analysis of Transferring Prosecutorial Decisions on Additional Offenses to an Independent Military Prosecutor: Requires the Secretary of Defense to appoint an independent committee, with no current military personnel or DoD employees, to review and recommend whether to move prosecutorial decisions for additional offenses (beyond those included in the Chairman’s Mark, which relate to sexual assault, domestic violence, and other special victim offenses) from commanders to an independent military prosecutor.
- Authorize a System of Military Court Protective Orders: Allows military judges to issue court protective orders compliant with the Violence Against Women Act, providing better protection and enforceability for servicemembers and family members experiencing intimate partner violence.
- Establish Independent Investigations of Sexual Harassment: Requires the military services to investigate sexual harassment allegations against servicemembers using specialized personnel outside the chain of command who are trained to investigate sexual harassment.
- Reform Military Criminal Investigative Organizations: Requires DoD to report to Congress on implementation of reforms to the Army Criminal Investigation Division, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and Air Force Office of Special Investigations to ensure that these organizations have the personnel, equipment, and capabilities necessary to conduct high quality, timely criminal investigations.
- Make Violent Extremism a Military Crime: Establishes a new article within the Uniform Code of Military Justice to bring greater consequences to servicemembers who perpetrate, plan, threaten, or conspire to commit violent acts with intent to intimidate or coerce a person or class of people, or the intent to impact government action or policy.
- Reform Panel Selection for Courts-Martial: Establishes a process that uses randomization to select panel members (analogous to a jury) for courts-martial, with accommodations for availability, to meet rank requirements, and to promote diverse representation by gender, race, and ethnicity. Under the status quo, commanders select panel members for courts-martial.
- Improve the Fairness of Nonjudicial Punishment: Requires legal review and provides accused servicemembers with the opportunity to access legal advice before the issuance of nonjudicial punishment, and require the services to establish guidance on the usage of exceptions that prevent servicemembers from declining nonjudicial punishment and proceeding to court-martial.
- Reform the Administrative Separation Process: Allows the service secretaries to issue other-than-honorable discharges, and allow victims to request that at least one voting board member be of the same gender, race, or ethnicity.
- Expand Victims’ Rights: Provides victims of an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice the right to be informed of pre-trial agreements, separation-in-lieu-of-trial agreements, and non-prosecution agreements; and require the Secretary of Defense to establish policies to share certain evidence, such as the statements of a victim and forensic examinations of the victim, with a Special Victims’ Counsel or Victims’ Legal Counsel.
- Consider Restitution for Victims: Requires DoD to report to Congress on its progress in evaluating options for mandatory restitution for victims of offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
- Improve Training for Military Prosecutors: Requires DoD to report on its plans to revamp the training for military prosecutors to handle increasingly complex cases.
- Publish Additional Data on Military Sexual Assault: Updates the Annual Sexual Assault Report to include breakdowns of sexual assault prevalence by installation, occupational area, gender, race, and ethnicity.
- Develop Options for Independent Reserve Investigations of Sexual Assault: Requires the services to review current options for reserve component investigations of sexual assault in the absence of a criminal investigation and identify alternatives that would utilize independent, experienced investigators.
- Inform Survivors of Sex-Related Offenses of Action Taken Against Assailants: Makes a technical fix to the law that prevented DoD from informing a survivor of sex-related offenses of adverse actions taken to hold the perpetrator accountable.
- Offer Referrals to Civilian Legal Counsel for Victims: Requires DoD to inform survivors of military sexual trauma and domestic violence of civilian organizations that provide legal advocacy for survivors.
- Offer Access to Exonerative DNA Testing: Establishes a process to allow servicemembers convicted of and confined for military offenses who assert their innocence to request DNA testing that may be exculpatory, paralleling the Innocence Protection Act that applies to prisoners in the federal civilian criminal system.
- Defend Military Whistleblowers: Allows military personnel who are retaliated against for making a protected communication the same, favorable burden of proof that their federal civilian employee counterparts are afforded.
Military Personnel and DoD Civilians
- Increase Parental Leave for Servicemembers: Offers 12 weeks of caregiver leave for primary and secondary caregivers (up from 6 weeks and 2 or 3 weeks, respectively), including adoptive parents and for long-term placement of foster children; allows secondary caregiver leave in the event of miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death; harmonizes postpartum deferment policies across the services to allow one year before new mothers are required to participate in overnight travel, physically demanding training exercises, or physical fitness tests; and standardizes convalescent leave policies across the services.
- Expand Child Care for Military Families: Requires the military services to develop a plan to renovate or replace all “Poor” and “Failing” condition military child development centers within 10 years, pilot a public-private partnership to expand child care capacity in regions with high unmet demand, and allows DoD to expand the in-home child care fee assistance pilot program to all installations.
- Provide Contraception Coverage Parity for Military Families: Eliminates copays for FDA-approved contraception, for TRICARE beneficiaries for one year, equivalent to the coverage by health plans under the Affordable Care Act.
- Remove Barriers to Servicemember Access to Contraception: Requires DoD to report to Congress on how it is addressing barriers that prevent servicemembers from receiving their preferred means of contraception, including during deployment.
- Expand Command Climate Reviews: Requires command climate survey results to be analyzed by installation, unit, and career field with results reported to the Secretary of Defense and to Congress, and establishes a permanent requirement to conduct independent reviews of the command climate at three military bases per year.
- Review Suicide Prevention and Response: Requires the Secretary of Defense to establish an independent committee of experts to conduct an in-depth review of suicide prevention and response efforts at no fewer than three installations with higher-than-average incidence of death by suicide of servicemembers.
- Combat Environmental Threats to Servicemembers: Requires DoD to complete testing for PFAS at all military installations within 2 years of enactment and requires DoD to report its plan to remediate DoD property contaminated with PFAS.
- Address Retention of Surface Warfare Officers: Requires the Navy to report to Congress on its progress in implementing GAO recommendations to reevaluate career paths for Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) to improve retention, which is especially low among female SWOs, and competency.
- Examine DoD-wide Policies on Sleep and Fatigue: Requires the Comptroller General to review DoD’s policies on fatigue management that prioritize servicemembers obtaining adequate sleep.
- Report Wait Times for Child Care at Military Child Development Centers: Requires DoD to report to Congress average wait times for military families with immediate need for child care at each installation.
- Confront Challenges Facing Personnel on Remote Installations: Requires DoD to review and update policies related to servicemembers and military families posted on remote installations, including education, health care, and morale, welfare, and recreation.
- Examine the Incidence of Autism in Children of Servicemembers: Expands the scope of a National Academy of Medicine study to include the question of whether the incidence of autism in children of military families is higher than in the general population.
- Advance Integration of Women in the Marine Corps: Clarifies that Marine Corps basic training must be gender integrated at the platoon level, and extends the gender integration requirement to Marine Corps officer training and any new basic training site that the Marine Corp might establish.
- Improve the Career Intermission Program (CIP): Establishes a 1-year service commitment extension for every year of participation in CIP, down from a 2-year service commitment under current law.
- Expand Personnel Diversity Goals and Reporting: Updates existing requirements for DoD to establish goals and report progress toward increasing the diversity of the total force by adding DoD civilian employees and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets and midshipmen to the diversity plan.
- Confront Sexual Harassment of DoD Civilians: Requires DoD to implement GAO recommendations to improve the Department’s efforts to prevent and respond to sexual harassment of civilian employees.
- Identify the Extent of Excessive Drilling in the National Guard: Requires DoD to report data on the prevalence of drilling that exceeds 38 days per year.
- Determine the Impact of Identify Theft and High-Interest Lending on Servicemembers: Requires DoD to report to Congress on the impact of identity theft, payday loans, and car-title loans on the finances and readiness of servicemembers.
- Rename the Medical Center at Camp Lejeune for former Congressman Walter B. Jones: Honors the late Rep. Walter Jones for his tireless advocacy for servicemembers and military families by naming the medical center at Camp Lejeune the “Walter B. Jones Naval Medical Center.”
Oversight of DoD Programs and Platforms
- Protect Women and Girls in Afghanistan: Requires DoD to report to Congress an analysis of defense programs in the region that could be leveraged to protect the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan and an assessment of military capabilities that could be used to assist with State Department-led efforts to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls.
- Evaluate the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Requires the Navy to analyze and report to Congress on the costs and benefits of the LCS program; update the total life cycle cost estimate for the program; assess whether the LCS meets current and future performance requirements and fleet needs, and a recommendation on whether the benefits and performance of LCS justify continued investment in the program.
- Address High Costs and Maintenance Difficulties with the F-35: Requires DoD to report to Congress on its efforts to address problems related to F-35 sustainment, such as high costs and low mission capability rates.
- Reduce Fatigue and Address Undermanning in the Surface Fleet: Requires the Navy to implement recommendations from the GAO on enforcing the Navy’s policies to ensure sailors receive enough sleep and that ships are not undermanned, both contributing factors in the McCain and Fitzgerald ship collisions, and initiates another GAO review of the Navy’s progress.
- Disclose Condition of and Cost to Rectify Substandard Barracks: Requires the military services to report all unaccompanied personnel housing in “Poor” and “Failing” condition along with the cost to renovate or replace the housing to meet standards.
- Increase Oversight of Privatized Military Family Housing: Requires the Comptroller General to review the Army’s $1.1 billion initiative to improve privatized housing at six locations, including Fort Hood, Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, Fort Wainwright, Fort Drum, and Army housing on Oahu.
- Enforce the Service Commitment for Graduates of Military Service Academies: Requires DoD to report to Congress on its efforts to update its policies to correct its failure to enforce the cadet and midshipman service agreements, in which graduates of the military service academies agree not to pursue opportunities in professional athletics until they have completed at least 2 years of their military service commitment.