Hoeven: Senate Passes Key Vote on National Defense Legislation

Bill Includes Priorities for North Dakota and the Nation

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Senate passed a key vote on the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The vote was 73 to 26. The House approved the measure last week. The vote today paves the way for final passage tomorrow. The bill will then go to President Obama, who has threatened to veto it. Hoeven worked to ensure the legislation included priorities for North Dakota and the nation.

The NDAA includes a total of $604 billion to support the U.S. military. Consistent with the Senate Budget Resolution, the agreement authorizes $89 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, which is composed of operations and maintenance funds that support readiness and training for our troops.

“This is a good step forward, but it’s vitally important that we hold enough votes to override a presidential veto and pass the companion Defense Appropriations bill that funds our military,” said Hoeven. “North Dakota plays a remarkably important role in our national defense, so we worked to ensure that the new legislation supports the nuclear missions at Minot Air Force Base, the Global Hawk missions at Grand Forks and our North Dakota National Guard.”

  • The agreement fully authorizes the FY16 budget request for the ICBM and B-52 missions at Minot AFB, including the Nuclear Force Improvement Program, and the Global Hawk mission at Grand Forks AFB.
  • The agreement authorizes $7.3 million to construct an Intelligence Targeting Facility at Hector Field to support the Air National Guard’s new targeting mission.  Hoeven is a member of the Military Construction Appropriations Committee that provides funding within this authorization that will build the facility.
  • The Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Authorization bill also requires the Air Force to produce a comprehensive plan to increase the number of qualified pilots of Remotely Piloted Aircraft.  This plan could include using private sector-led Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) training, which Hoeven has promoted. The senator included language in the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Appropriations bill that requires the Air Force to consider private sector-led training for RPA pilots.

Personnel and Benefits:

  • Basic Pay: The agreement includes a 1.3 percent raise in basic pay across the board for all military servicemembers grade O-6 and below.  It also reauthorizes 30 types of bonus pay and increases the maximum amount of nuclear officer bonus pay, which is important for Air Force personnel in Minot.
  • Thrift Savings Plan: The conference agreement creates a new 401k-style retirement benefit for the more than 80% of servicemembers who retire before reaching 20 years of service. 
  • Pharmacy Copays: The agreement rejects most of the administration’s proposed increases in pharmacy copayments and accepts only the amount necessary to fund new retirement benefits.
  • Dual military couples: The conference committee preserved housing allowances for dual-military couples.