December 08, 2016

Senate Passes Defense Bill That Includes Key Hawaii Priorities

Strengthens Child Abuse Reporting Requirements in Honor of Talia Williams;

Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, secured Hawaii priorities in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed the Senate today. The NDAA is a bill that lays out the resource levels and defense policy for the year. Senator Hirono is also a member of the NDAA Conference Committee, which reconciled differences between different versions of the bill passed by the Senate and House earlier this year.

“Hawaii’s vital role, especially in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Rebalance, continues to be reflected in our national security priorities for the coming year,” said Senator Hirono. “From securing nearly $300 million in military construction funding to including Talia’s Law, which improves child abuse reporting requirements in honor of Talia Williams, this comprehensive legislation strengthens our national security and benefits our service members.”

This year’s NDAA includes Hirono priorities to provide nearly $300 million to improve military installations in Hawaii, and prevents devastating cuts to Hawaii’s Impact Aid program. Senator Hirono also fought to include Talia’s Law, a measure named after five-year-old Talia Williams, who died after months of abuse by her father and stepmother, that requires Department of Defense employees who interact with children to report suspected abuse to civilian authorities like the Hawaii Child Welfare Services.

Senator Hirono was able to secure the following priorities for Hawaii:

Talia’s Law

The final bill includes the Senator’s provision to strengthen prompt reporting and action on child abuse. Talia’s Law, named in remembrance of Talia Williams, a five-year-old girl who died after months of abuse at the hands of her father and stepmother, requires immediate reporting of credible information to The Family Advocacy Program office at a military installation. Department of Defense employees who interact with children will also be required to report suspected abuse to civilian State Child Protective Services.

Over $277 Million for Hawaii’s Military Installations

  • $73 million for the Navy Regimental Consolidated Communications and Electrical facility at Marine Corps Base Hawaii (Oahu)
  • $40 million for the U.S. Army Pacific Headquarters Command and Control Facility at Fort Shafter (Oahu)
  • $32 million for Aircraft Maintenance Hangar Upgrades (Oahu)
  • $30 million for the construction of a water transmission line for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (Oahu)
  • $15 million for energy conservation projects at National Security Agency (NSA)-Hawaii in Wahiawa (Oahu)
  • $11 million for the Air National Guard’s F-22 Composite Repair Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (Oahu)
  • $2.6 million for facility upgrades at the Defense Information Systems Agency Pacific Command, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (Oahu)
  • $43 million for the Navy Power Plant & Electrical Distribution Systems at Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands (Kauai)
  • $31 million for the Army National Guard Hilo Combined Support Maintenance Shop to support Pohakuloa Training Area (Hawaii Island)

Funding Dry Dock Repair at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard

The final bill included a provision to allow for the repair, recapitalization, and certification of dry docks at Naval shipyards. This provision is intended to support the upkeep and maintenance of our nation’s shipyards, including Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.

U.S.-Palau Compact

Senator Hirono has consistently pushed for the national security importance of the United States’ Compact Agreement with Palau and our obligations to Palau under the agreement. The final bill calls on the President to include funding for the agreement in the Fiscal year 2018 budget request.

INDO-ASIA-PACIFIC REBALANCE:

Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative Extension

The final bill includes Senator Hirono’s provision extending the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative through 2020. The Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative is a joint effort with our allies and partners in Southeast Asia that helps countries share information, identifies potential threats, and works toward addressing challenges.

EDUCATION:

Saves Hawaii’s Impact Aid Funding

The Impact Aid program provides Hawaii funding to help finance the education of military-connected children. As a Co-Chair of the Senate Impact Aid Coalition, Sen. Hirono successfully fought to include strong funding for the Impact Aid program with $30 million in supplemental impact aid and $5 million for impact aid for children with severe disabilities.

Connecting Students to STEM Careers

During the Senate’s consideration of the NDAA, Senator Hirono partnered with Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) to protect the STARBASE program, which provides elementary students with opportunities to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The students served under the program are historically underrepresented in STEM fields. The final bill includes $25 million for the STARBASE program, which is consistent with the Senate’s bill and $5 million more than what the House had provided.

HEALTH CARE:

Creation of Online Patient Portal

The final bill includes Senator Hirono’s provision to create an online patient portal that would help patients with managing appointments, test results, and communications with providers. The bill implements a standardized appointment system and health care provider productivity standards.

Telehealth Services

Senator Hirono successfully included provisions in the bill that will enhance the use of telehealth services in the military health system.

Evaluation and Treatment of Veterans and Civilians at Military Treatment Facilities

Senator Hirono supported a provision to provide access in special cases for civilians and veterans to be evaluated and treated at Military Treatment Facilities. This will improve access in Hawaii in cases where veterans and civilians are unable to access the care they need at other health care facilities.

Medically Necessary Foods

The final bill includes Senator Hirono’s provision that would allow special foods and nutrients necessary due to metabolic disorders and other conditions to be covered under TRICARE. Covering these medically necessary foods should improve beneficiary health and reduce hospitalization.

Rural and Remote Considerations for Health Care Services

Senator Hirono partnered with Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) to ensure that DoD takes into consideration the unique challenges of providing health care services in rural and remote locations when entering into medical support contracts with local providers.

MILITARY FAMILIES:

Reauthorization of National Guard and Reserve Suicide Prevention Programs

Scheduled to expire in 2017, a provision authored by Sen. Hirono extends to 2018 the requirement that the Department of Defense carry out programs that provide members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families in Hawaii and across the country with training in suicide prevention, resilience, and community healing and response to suicide, including provision of such training at Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program events.

Military Spouses

Senator Hirono championed language in the final bill which would improve the Department of Defense’s ability to hire military spouses as the military member moves from assignment to assignment.

SMALL BUSINESS:

Extension of the SBIR and STTR programs

The final bill includes a provision that Senator Hirono supported that extends the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for 5 years. Since both programs’ creation, Hawaii businesses have received 593 awards totaling over $161 million.

VETERANS:

Asian American and Pacific Islander Medal of Honor Review

Senator Hirono strongly supported a provision requiring the DoD to review the service records of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars to determine if the award of the Medal of Honor is appropriate.

Overseas Civilian Pay

Senator Hirono successfully included a provision to allow overtime pay for civilian employees temporarily assigned to support Navy ships forward deployed in Japan.