Senate passes FY 2024 Defense Authorization Act

The U.S. Senate has passed its version of the Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), setting up an effort to find some common ground between the Democratic Senate and Republican House.

House and Senate versions of the act must now be reconciled in a bicameral conference committee and approved by each chamber before a final version is sent to President Biden to sign into law.

The Senate package includes 33 provisions authored by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and authorizes some $168 million in military construction and equipment for Alaska and the Arctic. That is in addition to a $203 million military construction project at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) that Sullivan said he was also able to secure.

“This year’s NDAA affirms Alaska’s importance to our nation’s defense during this dangerous time in our history,” Sullivan said.

“Almost all of the radar systems and all of the ground-based missile interceptors protecting the whole country are located in Alaska,” he said.

Sullivan also cited over 100 fifth-generation fighter jets, which he said make Alaska the hub of air combat power for the Arctic and Indo-Pacific, plus the 11th Airborne Division, which can quickly get to all parts of the world, and the Defense Department’s newest regional center the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was also among those voting for the bill’s passage in the Senate.

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“This bill authorizes significant investments in vital infrastructure and addresses the needs of our military personnel in Alaska and across the globe, ensuring they have the resources to fulfill their missions,” Murkowski said.

Alaska highlights of the legislation include extending the Don Young Arctic Warrior Act, with a provision allowing service members stationed in Alaska to be reimbursed for cost of airfare to their home. 

“The opportunity to go home for the holidays or for an anniversary is a critical morale-booster for troops and their families,” Murkowski said.

Another highlight is improvements in the Basic Needs Allowance. Studies have shown that food insecurity impacts nearly one in four armed servicemembers, and one in eight military families, highlighting the need to do better to ensure their basic needs are met.

Murkowski pushed for modifications of the Basic Needs Allowance that will lower barriers for service members applying for this financial aid.

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