House lawmakers have begun considering the annual defense policy bill, with debates and votes on dozens of amendments likely stretching well into the week.
More than 800 potential amendments have been submitted for the House version of the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which currently adds $24 billion to what the Pentagon requested earlier this year.
The funding increase will likely be a point of debate with progressive Democrats pushing to revert to a smaller bill. The House Rules Committee will also consider amendments to the bill starting this week.
Several of the amendments would have a direct impact on National Guard leaders, programs and services.
Among them are provisions that would help elevate the role of the chief of the National Guard Bureau. One amendment would expand the Armed Forces Policy Council to include the chief. Another would add the chief to the list of officers that can be selected by the president to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Other proposed amendments would:
- Continue support of the National Guard COVID-19 testing mission until no longer deemed necessary by local, state and federal public health authorities;
- Direct the defense secretary to provide a per diem to members of the National Guard who were deployed in support of Capitol security;
- Increase funding for the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program by $35 million;
- Direct DoD to issue non-state matched funding in limited circumstances to help provide support for new NG Youth ChalleNGe programs;
- Prohibit the use of funds to retire the LCM-8, a landing craft used by the Puerto Rico National Guard;
- Require DoD to inspect military facilities, including state-owned Guard facilities, for lead and copper;
- Allow state adjutants general to establish a space range or site for the National Guard at any spaceport located in their state;
- Extend a pilot program for a Regional Cybersecurity Training Center for the Army Guard;
- Require the chief of the National Guard Bureau to submit an annual report to Congress on the number of sexual assault cases involving members of the Guard;
- Make Guardsmen eligible for independent student status for the purpose of federal financial assistance for higher education;
- Require a review of existing authorities for using Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems and other military assets to fight wildfires; and
- Clarify that members of the D.C. National Guard who are federal civilian employees are entitled to leave without loss in pay or time from their civilian employment during mobilization.