McMorris Rodgers Bill, Pay Raise for Fairchild Troops Advance in Annual Defense Package

FY23 NDAA Ends COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement, Boosts Military Readiness

Washington, D.C. –  Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the final version of the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In addition to bolstering America’s national defense and military readiness, the package provided a pay raise for troops at Fairchild Air Force Base, rescinded the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for servicemembers, and included the congresswoman’s bipartisan DEFEND Act.

“The National Defense Authorization Act is proof that Congress will always come together to support our troops and bolster our national defense against adversaries around the world,” said Rodgers. “This year’s package is a big win for servicemembers in Eastern Washington. It finally rescinds President Biden’s misguided COVID-19 vaccine mandate, gives our airmen and women at Fairchild a well-deserved raise, and helps bring military spouses off the sidelines and into the workforce.

“In addition to making a tremendous investment in our Armed Forces to keep us safe and free, this year’s defense package includes my DEFEND Act, which is critical as we continue working to combat the Iranian aggression that is threatening peace and security in the Middle East. These are big wins, and I look forward to President Biden signing them into law.”

Below are highlights from the FY23 NDAA, which the Senate is expected to consider next week. Upon passage, it will go to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Servicemember Pay and Benefits

  • Supports a 4.6% pay increase for servicemembers.
  • Includes $500 million for additional housing allowances to counteract the skyrocketing cost of rent on military families.
  • Extends military recruitment and retention bonuses and special pay authorities to support readiness efforts.

Military Families

  • Reinforces that parents of children attending DoD schools have the right to review curriculum, instructional materials, and disciplinary policies.
  • Expands support available to military spouses with home businesses.
  • Requires the DoD to conduct roundtables with industry to promote employment opportunities for military spouses.
  • Permanently authorizes reimbursement of spouse professional relicensing fees due to servicemember change of station.
  • Makes child care more affordable by extending authority to offer military families discounts at DoD child care facilities.

Military Health Care

  • Eliminates the COVID-19 vaccination mandate on all active and reserve component servicemembers and ends servicemember separations for failure to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Improves the medical processing of Wounded Warriors to ensure timely delivery of care.
  • Expands access to mental health services and suicide prevention programs for servicemembers.

Military Construction & Facility Improvements

  • Authorizes $15.5 billion for military construction and military family housing projects throughout the United States and around the world.

Border Security

  • Fully funds the National Guard’s operation and maintenance account to support a border deployment.

Protecting Eastern Washington Aircrafts

  • Tasks the Air Force with creating a plan to transfer KC-135s to the Air National Guard as they are replaced by KC-46As instead of retiring them.

The DEFEND Act

The Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defenses (DEFEND) Act is a joint effort by Congress to develop a strategy for Abraham Accords and other countries to combat Iranian aggression threatening peace and security in the Middle East.

CLICK HERE for more on the DEFEND Act.

CLICK HERE for a one pager on the FY23 NDAA.

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