Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) released the following statement on the final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021. In addition to securing status-quo extensions for the Nevada Test and Training Range and the Naval Air Station Fallon, this legislation includes language Senator Cortez Masto advanced to improve mental health services for members of the National Guard and Reserves, support Navy members in getting the retirement benefits owed to them, combat human trafficking and increase the transparency and efficiency of the Department of Defense’s TRICARE medical billing practices.
“The FY21 NDAA includes many priorities that will improve the quality of life for Nevada’s service men and women. I fought for the inclusion of critical provisions in this year’s bill, including legislation to improve access to health care and mental health resources for Nevada’s service members and veterans, a pay raise for active duty military members, resources to combat human trafficking in online marketplaces, and the creation of intergovernmental committees to improve the management of natural and cultural resources on military bases throughout the Silver State. I’m proud to support legislation that provides real support for the brave Nevadans and their families who sacrifice every day for our country.”
Senator Cortez Masto fought to ensure that there was no funding to restart the failed Yucca Mountain project included in the bill.
The following are Senator Cortez Masto’s legislative initiatives that were included in the Senate passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021:
- Status-quo extensions of the Nevada Test and Training Range and the Naval Air Station Fallon, providing for continued military operations and training exercises in Southern and Northern Nevada.
- Creation of Intergovernmental Executive Committees (IEC) at both the Nevada Test and Training Range and the Naval Air Station Fallon. These committees will allow local, state and tribal governments a public forum to collaborate with the military in providing advice and exchanging information on the management of natural and cultural resources within local lands used for military purposes.
- Creation of an Interagency Committee between the Air Force and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR). This committee will help improve the administration and resolve conflict on NTTR’s jointly-managed lands that overlap with the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.
- Legislation to improve transparency and efficiency of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) TRICARE billing practices: The Department of Defense Healthcare Billing Report Act directs the Comptroller General to assess billing practices of DoD to ensure members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families receive high-quality health care that prioritizes fairness and accessibility.
- Legislation that directs a study on Chinese government influence over the international standards setting process for emerging technologies: Senator Cortez Masto introduced similar legislation with Senator Portman in December.
- Legislation to bolster national security by expanding the capacity of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN): Senator Cortez Masto introduced the FinCEN Improvement Act of 2019 to help tribal law enforcement agencies, protect against domestic terrorism and focus on virtual currencies.
- Legislation to study how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex and drug trafficking: Senator Cortez Masto’s Fight Illicit Networks and Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act will study and analyze how virtual currencies and online marketplaces facilitate trafficking and report on recommendations on how to fight, detect and deter these illegal activities.
- First step legislation to restoring full pay and benefits to 515 Navy officers who participated in the Seaman to Admiral-21 (STA-21) program: Senator Cortez Masto led a letter urging the Senate Armed Services Committee to include this fix as part of the FY21 NDAA.
Senator Cortez Masto supported funding for Nevada’s service members and important projects at Nevada’s military installations, including:
- A 3% pay raise for service members.
- $16 million for improvements at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) to help support the continued modernization and safety efforts at the site.
- $29 million for military construction projects for Naval Air Station Fallon.
In addition, Senator Cortez Masto cosponsored several pieces of legislation contained within the Senate version of the NDAA, including:
- Legislation to ensure that National Guard and Reserve members can access mental health services, regardless of whether they have been deployed. Senator Cortez Masto is a cosponsor of Senator Tester’s (D-Mont.) Care and Readiness Enhancement (CARE) for Reservists Act.
- Legislation to expand the VA’s list of service-connected medical conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange to include bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkisonism, and hypertension. Senator Cortez Masto urged the Administration to make this rule change in February.
- Legislation to ensure that the Department of Energy maintains authority over the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) budget. Previous proposals had suggested removing oversight power from the Department of Energy and shifting it to the Nuclear Weapons Council, which primarily includes personnel from the Department of Defense.
- Legislation directing the DoD to conduct a study comparing cancer prevalence among military aviators and aviation support personnel to that of the general population. Recent reports have shown that military aviators may be at a higher risk for developing certain cancers.
The Senate version of the FY21 NDAA also includes reforms to prohibit the Department of Defense’s transfer of certain war-grade weapons to local law enforcement agencies.