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Hirono Secures Key Priorities for Hawaii and Pacific Region in Committee Markup of Annual Defense Bill

~ Sen. Hirono’s provisions build on progress made towards the permanent, safe closure of Red Hill and invest in DOD’s critical infrastructure needs in Hawaii, the U.S., and Pacific Region ~

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, secured several key priorities for Hawaii and the U.S. military during the Committee’s markup of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Since the fuel leaks at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in 2021, Senator Hirono has continued to work closely with Department of Defense (DOD) leadership, community leaders in Hawaii, and her Senate colleagues to help ensure the safe and timely defueling and closure of Red Hill. In the FY 2023 NDAA, Senator Hirono also helped secure $1 billion for the defueling and closure of Red Hill. Building on that progress, she secured additional Red Hill-related provisions in this year’s NDAA, including the creation of a new “major mishaps” classification within the DOD.

“While we have made progress in defueling the Red Hill facility, we must address the long-term issues surrounding the health and safety of our servicemembers, families, and communities impacted by the fuel leaks,” said Senator Hirono. “As we continue to work towards the permanent and safe closure of Red Hill, it is crucial that transparent, open communication with the community is maintained and that systemic changes are made to prevent future incidents. That is why I have prioritized making improvements to the DOD’s processes for handling major mishaps, and I’ll continue working to ensure the impacted communities are protected and supported throughout this process.”

Specifically, the bill includes Red Hill-related provisions introduced by Senator Hirono that:

  • Invests $505 million for the Water Treatment Plant at Red Hill, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam;
  • Continues the Hawaii delegation’s work to hold the DOD accountable for the Red Hill fuel leak by including language acknowledging the ongoing, long-term responsibility the Department has regarding Red Hill.
    • Specifically, it encourages the DOD to finalize a memorandum of agreement with the State of Hawaii formalizing a long-term commitment to environmental restoration and remediation as well as a research program to determine the total volume and location of any contaminated soil; and
  • Establishes a new DOD-wide classification system for “major mishaps,” defined as those incidents that surpass $500,000,000 in damage or result in the loss of five or more lives.
    • If an incident meets these criteria, the DOD will be required to assign a two-star Admiral or General as the investigating officer and complete the investigation in 12 months. For those persons in the military who are found responsible for the incident, the provision requires mandatory discharge processing and follow-on reports to Congress until all disciplinary actions are completed.

As Chair of the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Senator Hirono has also made modernizing DOD infrastructure in Hawaii and across the country a top priority. The NDAA markup includes numerous provisions secured by Senator Hirono focused on infrastructure; delivering for communities in Hawaii; supporting servicemembers and their families; strengthening DOD’s capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region; and prioritizing sustainability within the DOD.

“By investing in the construction and improvement of infrastructure projects in the state, across the country, and throughout the Pacific region, this bill will help ensure the readiness of our military and the health and safety of our servicemembers, their families, and surrounding communities,” said Senator Hirono. “I’m also proud to have secured provisions that invest over $2.5 billion for military construction projects in Hawaii, increases pay for military servicemembers and DOD civilian employees, and aims to strengthen partnerships with the DOD, state and local governments, and community members. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get this passed and signed into law in the coming months.”

Specifically, the bill includes provisions introduced by Senator Hirono that:

Invests in Critical Infrastructure:

  • Requires the Navy to conduct more extensive planning on large military construction projects to more accurately identify operational mission need dates, and to routinely brief Congress on the status of the Pearl Harbor dry dock construction project until it is completed, including an assessment of the likelihood and steps being taken to avoid further cost increases.
  • Increases to $30 million the threshold of authority for the Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to conduct military construction projects throughout the Region.
  • Requires DOD to designate an official responsible for the coordination of infrastructure projects with the state and local government and community to support additional servicemembers and their families who will be stationed in Hawaii over the next 10 years.
  • Directs DOD to implement all of the Inspector General Report recommendations related to issues at Defense Fuel Support Points around the world to help prevent future fuel leaks.
  • Directs the Navy to brief Congress on its plan to repair the surface ship piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
  • Equalizes the structure of jointly based services (such as those at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam) by requiring each military department with responsibility for a joint base to submit a prioritized list of military construction projects to Congress. This will help to ensure tenant Services receive equitable prioritization for infrastructure funds from the host Service.
  • Authorizes increased funding to repair and improve enlisted barracks.

Delivers for Hawaii:

  • Invests over $2.5 billion for military construction projects in Hawaii:
    • $1.2 billion for Dry Dock 3 replacement at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam.
    • $231 million for Wheeler Army Airfield Aircraft Maintenance Hangar.
    • $203.5 million for Hangar and Parking Apron at Marine Corps Base Hawaii (Kaneohe Bay).
    • $36.6 million for a Hawaii Air National Guard Space Control Center at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam.
    • $105 million for the planning and design of a Waterfront Production Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam.
    • $94.2 million for Electrical Distribution and Modernization at Marine Corps Base Hawaii (Kaneohe Bay).
    • $64.1 million for the Main Gate Entry Control Facility at Marine Corps Base Hawaii (Kaneohe Bay).
    • $20 million for an Airfield Operations Building at Bradshaw Airfield on Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA).
    • $17 million for an Aircraft Refueling Pit at Marine Corps Base Hawaii (Kaneohe Bay).
  • Authorizes over $100 million for the procurement of a dual-use, FAA aviation safety and missile defense radar in support of the defense of Hawaii.
  • Authorizes an additional $5 million above the President’s budget for the Pacific Intelligence and Innovation Initiative (P3I), which creates a local skilled workforce to meet DOD demand for intelligence, IT, and cyber professionals in Hawaii.
  • Directs DOD to create a pilot program for advanced manufacturing (3D printing) in the Indo-Pacific to expedite the manufacturing of repair parts and autonomous systems.
  • Requires DOD to provide an update on coordination efforts with the State of Hawaii to maintain or extend the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.
  • Requires the Army and Navy to coordinate a plan for the repair and maintenance of Kolekole Pass for emergency egress.
  • Directs an update from DOD on providing training for cultural adaptation and community orientation for servicemembers assigned to Hawaii and Joint Region Marianas.
  • Extends the public shipyard worker exemption from DOD’s integrated lodging pilot program.

Supports People:

  • Includes a 4.5 percent pay increase for military servicemembers and a 2 percent pay raise for DOD civilian employees. The military increase is the third highest pay raise in over 20 years and includes a separate additional basic pay increase for junior enlisted servicemembers.
  • Requires DOD to provide basic coverage through TRICARE of artificial reproductive technology for active duty servicemembers and their families, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), and cryopreservation of eggs and sperm. This would greatly support military families who experience challenges with natural conception.
  • In response to concerns about female uniform supply and availability, directs the Secretary of the Military Departments, in coordination with the Defense Logistics Agency, to develop a plan to allow for the quick access of all required uniform items.
  • Requires DOD to include an explanation of patient-centered contraceptive counseling in its annual health assessment and pre-deployments forms to support family planning.
  • Includes multiple provisions to improve DOD efforts related to traumatic brain injury, including treating and researching injuries related to blast overpressure or exposure.
  • Codifies the authority to hire military spouses into noncompetitive appointments in the civil service.
  • Authorizes an increase of $80 million of Impact Aid to support schools located near DOD concentration areas, including $30 million for children with severe disabilities.
  • Authorizes free high-speed internet access and wireless network connections for servicemembers who reside in unaccompanied housing within the United States.
  • Authorizes the military departments to provide payments to victims of designated criminal offenses, including health care, travel, and property loss or damage.
  • Encourages the Defense Department to implement recommendations contained in three separate Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports related to improving the Department’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and directs a briefing detailing the progress in implementing all of the outstanding GAO recommendations.
  • Requires the Air Force to transfer certain space functions of the Air National Guard to the Space Force, with the caveat that such transfer shall not reduce the end strength for the affected state Air National Guard organizations.
    • Additionally, requires the Secretary of the Air Force to afford at least one year for Air National Guard members to decide on whether they want to transfer to the Space Force. Additionally, for those members who do volunteer to transfer, requires the Secretary of the Air Force to provide 3 years of geographic stability in Hawaii.
  • Improves on Senator Hirono’s work on the Stayskal Act by adjusting the DOD medical malpractice claims process to require that a medical expert be board-certified in the medical specialty related to the underlying claim.

Strengthens Our Ability to Protect the Pacific Region:

  • Authorizes the full budget request for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) and requires a plan for more effectively budgeting for PDI in future years.
  • Requires a plan for the establishment of joint force headquarters subordinate to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Japan and Australia.
  • Authorizes an Indo-Pacific Security Assistance Initiative and authorizes DOD to provide or replenish defense articles and services to allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Authorizes increased funding to enhance the submarine industrial base and support the construction of a second Virginia-class submarine in FY25 to provide additional deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Authorizes the Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to carry out campaigning exercises that will strengthen alliances and partnerships, deter aggression by adversaries, and allow the U.S. Armed Forces to coordinate and operate with foreign military partners in the region.
  • Authorizes over $12 billion in additional military construction funds to rebuild Guam following Typhoon Mawar.
  • Establishes a cross-functional team to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) reform.
  • Includes a variety of DOD acquisition reform proposals to streamline the delivery of critical weapons system procurement and save taxpayer money.
  • Directs the DOD to examine the feasibility and advisability of providing resources and personnel to support construction and infrastructure maintenance on the Marshall Islands and Micronesia and directs a report on restoring the presence of civic action teams in these locations.
  • Establishes a medical readiness program with Indo-Pacific partner nations to ensure access to foreign medical facilities during peacetime and wartime operations.
  • Requires a multi-year plan for DOD activities to establish a regional contingency stockpile for Taiwan.
  • Requires a report on the military cooperation between China and Russia and the implications of such for U.S. national security.

Prioritizes Sustainability and the Environment:

  • Includes $12.8 million of Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program funding for solar panel covered parking and EV charging station at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
  • Directs the Army to provide a briefing regarding Hawaiian Homelands that surround DOD testing facilities that assesses advanced surveillance technologies to locate munitions and unexploded ordnance (UXO) and a schedule of upcoming surveying events.
  • Directs the Navy to mitigate the further spread of the invasive octocoral found in Pearl Harbor.
  • Requires DOD to prioritize the recycling of critical materials.
  • Adds $20 million in Defense-wide Operations and Maintenance for the Readiness and Environmental Integration Program (REPI) which has funded several projects in Hawaii since its inception.
  • Authorizes $7 billion for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) defense environmental cleanup activities.
  • Requires DOD to improve efforts to manage invasive species that exacerbate the risk of wildfires that can affect the health and safety of servicemembers, their families, and surrounding communities.
  • Directs a briefing on DOD efforts to enhance military installation resilience through the scaling and adaptation of the DOD Climate Assessment Tool.
  • Directs a briefing on the risks related to flooding and other natural disasters that threaten military installations and surrounding civilian infrastructure.
  • Requires the Defense Department to brief Congress on policies for situations where an environmental release at an overseas base migrates off the installation.  
  • Codifies existing DOD policy that compels the military services to act to address any release or threatened release of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and authorizes increased funding for PFAS clean-up effort and the ongoing CDC assessment of human health impacts from PFAS.

Committee approval is the first step in the process to establish defense funding levels and set policies for the DOD. The bill will next be debated and voted on by the full Senate. Once both the Senate and House pass their versions of the NDAA, they must be reconciled by a bicameral conference committee, and then approved by each chamber before a final version is sent to the President to be signed into law.