WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over 30 major provisions offered by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, were adopted in the final version of the annual defense policy bill.
“Following the murder of Specialist Vanessa Guillén, and the galvanization of survivors of military sexual trauma and the Guillén family, Congress is on the cusp of making historic changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the likes of which we have not seen in over 70 years. By moving the decision to prosecute a servicemember for rape, domestic violence, murder, and other serious crimes out of the chain of command to an independent military prosecutor, we would finally address a gaping wound for sexual assault survivors and provide a pathway to justice. In addition to these seismic changes, the final FY22 NDAA agreement includes important provisions to improve the lives of servicemembers and military families, including expansion of parental leave and child care, adding coverage of prenatal testing to TRICARE, and enforcement of stronger environmental protections, especially a full assault on PFAS,” Chair Speier said. “The NDAA also includes my provisions to strengthen oversight of the Defense Department and the military services, such as scrutiny of the Department’s policies on servicemember fatigue, which has contributed to deadly operational and training disasters. It would reform the Military Criminal Investigative Organizations that failed SPC Vanessa Guillén, and other victims like her. It would expand diversity planning and reporting to Reserve Officer’s Training Corps and DoD civilians. Finally, the House-passed NDAA would expand the rights of crime victims by ensuring victims are informed of accountability actions taken against perpetrators, connecting victims of interpersonal violence with civilian victim service organizations, and initiating a review of the administrative separation process. I am proud of these provisions and will not rest until they are implemented successfully.”
Rep. Speier’s House-passed NDAA provisions include:
- 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.
- Review the Administrative Separation Process: Requires the Comptroller General to review the processes used by the military services to administratively separate personnel, including the use of legal advisors.
- 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.
- 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 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 Victim Services Organizations: Requires DoD to inform survivors of military sexual trauma and domestic violence of civilian organizations that provide legal advocacy for survivors.
Military Personnel and DoD Civilians
- Increase Parental Leave for Servicemembers: Offers up to 12 weeks of parental 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.
- Harmonize Postpartum Deferment Policies: Requires the services to allow one year before new mothers are required to meet body composition standards or pass physical fitness tests.
- Expand Child Care for Military Families: Allows DoD to expand the in-home child care fee assistance pilot program beyond the current five locations to any installation; directs the military services to review the safety of child development centers and report on plans to remediate “Poor” and “Failing” condition military child development centers, and promotes public-private partnerships to expand child care capacity in regions with high unmet demand.
- Remove Barriers to Servicemember Access to Contraception: Requires DoD to brief Congress on how it is providing health care services to active-duty women servicemembers, including addressing barriers to contraceptive access and family planning.
- 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.
- 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 three military installations.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.