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Passage of Defense Authorization bill includes provisions that support the rebalance to Asia-Pacific region, funds military construction, promotes the well-being of service members and their families, and energy research and development

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Armed Services and the Veterans’ Affairs committees, today voted to pass the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The defense bill includes important provisions for Hawaii including providing for construction and upgrades to military facilities, supporting the health and education of our troops and their families, enhancing our national security focus on the Asia-Pacific, supporting Hawaii’s military-connected public schools, focusing on improving military readiness and saving taxpayer dollars through energy efficiency.

“The national defense authorization bill includes smart, meaningful investments for our military personnel serving in Hawaii and around the globe. The bill includes many important provisions which authorize Department of Defense activities and provide for the well-being of our service members and their families,” said Senator Hirono. “I worked to strengthen and protect our commissaries and to ensure the continued modernization of our military facilities to keep our armed services at the highest levels of readiness.”

The measure will now be sent to the White House for the President’s signature.

Additional provisions in the NDAA include:

Improving Readiness, Saving Taxpayer Dollars through Improved Energy Efficiency
In order to have a more sustainable and cost-efficient military, an increased investment in renewable energy is paramount. Senator Hirono worked with Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) to include a bipartisan amendment that gives the Department of Defense (DOD) flexibility to improve energy efficiency and use green building techniques for their infrastructure. Additionally, the bill includes a Hirono amendment that will help reduce fuel costs across all major DOD vehicle and weapon purchases.

Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
Senator Hirono included a provision that would designate the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii, as the "Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies." Since opening on September 4, 1995, the Center has worked to cultivate strong bilateral ties between the U.S. Pacific Command and its counterparts in other nations across the Asia-Pacific. Senator Inouye’s work to expand the Center greatly contributed to its growth as an academic institution addressing regional and global security issues.

Increased Focus on the Military Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific Region
A Hirono provision will bring to bear an independent assessment of the strategy, capabilities and future needs within the Asia-Pacific theatre. Senator Hirono also included a provision that halts an Air Force plan to move four KC-135 refueling tankers from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to California pending the results of a cost-benefit analysis.

Protected and Strengthened Commissary Benefits
As a member of the Subcommittee on Personnel, Senator Hirono fought to preserve commissary prices, which are a valuable benefit to many of our servicemembers, military families and military retirees. She also supports a provision requiring the Defense Department to consult with retail grocery experts to identify potential savings in the commissary system and allowing commissaries to purchase and sell generic drugs.

More Provisions to Help Servicemembers as they Transition to Civilian Life
Senator Hirono worked to include updates to DOD’s Transition Assistance Program. Servicemembers will have updated, accurate information on how to select a college, utilize their GI Bill benefit, avoid scams or costly private loans and file complaints online. Senator Hirono worked on the amendment with Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Tom Carper (D-DE), who are also champions of improving educational benefits and services for current and former servicemembers. Another provision requires the DOD to conduct a study on the impact of Tricare Prime Service Area reductions on beneficiary access to care.

Increased Support for Military Families with Keiki in Hawaii’s Public Schools
Senator Hirono fought to continue funding for the Hawaii Department of Education (HDOE) and other school districts with military-connected children through federal Impact Aid. Senator Hirono included provisions from the Local Taxpayer Relief Act, a bill she first introduced as a member of the U.S. House, and reintroduced in 2013 with Republican co-lead Senator John Thune (R-SD).

Required Consultations with Chief of the National Guard Bureau on Personnel Hiring
The NDAA includes Senator Hirono’s provision to require certain general officers assigned to the National Guard Bureau be selected by the service Secretary only after consultations with the Chief of the National Guard Bureau. Previously, officers could be assigned to senior positions within the National Guard Bureau without consultation with the Chief. 

The NDAA also includes support for the following investments in Hawaii:

U.S. Army Pacific Command: $311 million to complete construction of the U.S. Army Pacific’s Command and Control Facility.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam: $62.6 million for military construction and facilities upgrades.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii: $53.4 million for military construction and facilities upgrades and $8.5 million for energy conservation projects.

DOD Impact Aid assistance: $25 million nationally for Impact Aid assistance to school districts for educating military-dependent children and $5 million for Impact Aid assistance for children with disabilities.

Maui Space Surveillance System: $14 million for the Maui Space Surveillance System which is a telescope important to national defense activities.

STARBASE Program: $25 million nationwide for supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education by exposing youth to technological environments on military bases and installations.