Tuesday December 17th, 2019

Cortez Masto Applauds Passage of 2020 NDAA, Successfully Ensures No FY2020 Funding for Yucca Mountain, Secures Critical Military Housing Reforms

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 2020, which does not authorize any funding for the failed Yucca Mountain project for FY2020 and includes language from Senator Cortez Masto’s Servicewomen’s Health Transition Training Act to help increase servicewomen’s awareness of VA benefits and other services to help them transition to civilian life. The FY2020 NDAA also includes reforms Senator Cortez Masto introduced in her Better Military Housing Act of 2019 to improve the management of privatized military housing installations and prioritize the needs of Nevada’s service members and military installations. As part of the legislation, critical priorities for the Senator, like the repeal of the widow’s tax on military families and paid family leave of up to 12 weeks for every federal employee, were also included.

“I’m proud to have worked to ensure the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act denies the authorization of funding for Yucca Mountain, funds Nevada’s military bases and includes my bipartisan legislation to help women veterans access VA benefits and to improve the quality of privatized military housing. These much-needed reforms will help improve the quality of life for the men, women, and families who sacrifice every day for our country. I’m also glad to see additional provisions in the NDAA which require the Department of Defense to seriously consider the national security threats of climate change, eliminate the military widow’s tax and ensure federal workers are able to receive paid family leave to care for themselves and their families. I’ll continue to fight for Nevada’s priorities and support our brave service members and their families.” 


The following are Senator Cortez Masto’s legislative and funding initiatives that were included in the final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020:  

Senator Cortez Masto worked to block any funding to restart the failed Yucca Mountain project in FY2020. 

Senator Cortez Masto fought for funding for important projects at Nevada’s military installations, including: 

  • $65.2 million for military construction projects for Nellis Air Force Base, including:
    • $57 million for the 365th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Group Facility.
    • $8.2 million for construction of F-35A Munitions Maintenance Facilities.
  • $275 million for a new 5G information communications technology research and development program, including the creation of 5G test sites at Department of Defense installations, including at the Nevada Test and Training Range.

Senator Cortez Masto worked closely with her colleagues to craft the most significant privatized military housing reform in the past 20 years. This reform legislation will create more accountability and improve overall living conditions through the inclusion of language Senator Cortez Masto proposed in her Better Military Housing Act of 2019including:

  • Strengthened protections for military families to report housing concerns without fear of reprisal from housing providers or military commanders.
  • Creation of standardized performance metrics for privatized military housing contractors.
  • Improved communication and transparency between the Department of Defense (DoD), contractors and military families.
  • Streamlined work order systems and increased information for tenants on work order status and the history of a housing unit’s maintenance.
  • Creation of a Tenant Bill of Rights to attach to all housing agreements.

The FY2020 NDAA also includes language from Senator Cortez Masto’s bipartisan Servicewomen’s Health Transition Training Act to help women transitioning from active duty to civilian life learn about the VA services available to them. 

  • The Servicewomen’s Health Transition Training Act is the first step towards expanding the Women’s Health Transition Training Program – a Department of Veterans Affairs initiative that aims to educate women separating from the military about the services and benefits offered by the VA – to all military branches across the country. The bill directs the Secretary of Defense to work with military departments to encourage women service members to participate in the Women’s Health Transition Training program.

In addition, Senator Cortez Masto was proud to support provisions in the NDAA to:

  • Repeal the military widows’ tax;
  • Guarantee paid family leave to all federal employees;
  • Develop a comprehensive Department of Defense policy on providing mental health care to service members;
  • Require the DoD to establish a climate change adaptation plan and create a panel to assess the national security threats posed by global warming; and
  • Provide additional funding for drug interdiction and counter narcotics activities.



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