House Passes Defense Authorization Bill that Expands Parental Leave Across Federal Government, Improves Base Housing
(Washington, DC) – Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger today supported legislation authorizing $738 billion in defense-related activities that includes a 3.1 percent pay raise for troops, an end to the unfair ‘widows' tax, 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all federal government workers and efforts to address substandard military housing.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House of Representatives 377-48, authorizes spending by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the defense-related activities of the Department of Energy, as well as Overseas Contingency Operations.
Ruppersberger, a member of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee who also co-chairs the House Army Caucus and is Vice Chair of the U.S. Naval Academy Board, issued the following statement:
“This year’s NDAA was deeply personal for the Second District, which is home to more than 45,000 federal employees that stand to benefit from expanded parental leave and tens of thousands of troops and family members at Fort Meade, Aberdeen Proving Ground and our National Guard facilities who will finally see a decent pay raise.
We’ve been working hard to address substandard housing at Fort Meade and this bill will go a long way, including a tenants’ bill of rights and $140 million to hire personnel to enforce housing reforms.
I’ve personally met multiple times with constituents affected by the unjust widow’s tax – women with small children who are grieving the loss of their spouse in service to our nation and have had to mount a massive lobbying campaign to fix something so obviously wrong. To them, this bill is a massive relief.
The legislation expands healthcare services for troops and their families, with a special emphasis on mental health. It also includes my own bipartisan legislation that aims to protect critical infrastructure such as the energy grid from cyber attack. In all, the bill contains 1,249 provisions including many Democratic priorities and certainly many provisions that our President and Senate fundamentally oppose.
I will continue to fight for the provisions we did not secure and can only hope that we soon have a White House and Senate that better reflect the values of our nation so that these become possible.”