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Weekly Column: Supporting Idaho's Men And Women In Uniform

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Congress created the precursor for what became the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) when it passed the National Security Act of 1947 and later amended it in 1949.  The law required the reorganization of our country’s military functions to provide more coordinated and effective direction, rather than our nation’s military functions continuing to operate under conflicting policies under separate departments.  One of the most important responsibilities of Congress is to provide for this common defense.  Through enactment of annual National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA), Congress meets its constitutional responsibility by supporting American servicemembers, allies and national security efforts. 

With my support and the support of fellow U.S. Senator for Idaho Jim Risch, the Senate recently passed its version of the NDAA for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, S. 2226, by a vote of 86-11.  This legislation backs Idaho’s women and men in uniform:

  • Provides both servicemembers and the DOD civilian workforce with needed 5.2 percent pay raises and increases authorized defense funding
  • Prevents progressive lawmakers from using the military funding bill to advance far-left priorities
  • Expresses that the United States is committed to NATO and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a unified response to the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine;
  • Supports cooperation with Israel to advance security in the region and world;
  • Provides for key modernization, including research into microelectronic and hypersonic weapons; and
  • Enables a continued firm stance against world antagonists, such as China and Russia.

I also worked with Senator Risch to secure provisions important to Idaho, including legislation:

  • Expanding the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to Idaho and other western states, providing justice to downwinders affected by radiation from nuclear testing;
  • Funding for the Idaho Army National Guard’s Jerome County Regional site;
  • Funding for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Project Pele, a mobile micro nuclear reactor pilot program on schedule for deployment to the INL by 2025;
  • Language to support research for composite alternatives to titanium, including thermoplastics at Funding Advanced Thermoplastics Composite (ATC) Manufacturing in Post Falls, Idaho;
  • Funding for the Civil Air Patrol, which has a very active Idaho Wing; and
  • Boosting development and deployment of new nuclear technologies and facilitate American nuclear leadership.

In addition to the previously mentioned RECA amendment, we were also successful in passing a number of other important amendments with substantial majorities.  This includes an amendment based on legislation I co-sponsored that would prohibit China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from purchasing U.S. farmland and agricultural companies.  The Senate-passed NDAA also included the Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act of 2023.  I joined in introducing this legislation that would improve the nation’s nuclear infrastructure, secure America’s uranium supply chain, grow the economy, create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and strengthen national security.

The differences between the Senate-passed bill and the version passed by the U.S. House of Representatives will now need to be worked out in conference negotiations between the two legislative bodies before enacted into law.  We are on the right path to strengthening our country’s defense capabilities while backing military families. 

DOD historians describe the DOD’s headquarters--the distinctive and well-known Pentagon--as a building, an institution and a symbol.  “For most Americans, it is the embodiment of U.S. strength and authority, the nerve center of the military establishment, a rock of security.”  I am proud to support Idaho’s military personnel and industries, and look forward to enactment of a final FY 2024 NDAA, that delivers the resources our armed forces need to meet our national security challenges and maintain our country as a “rock of security.” 

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