WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman French Hill (AR-02) released the following statement after voting in favor of the Conference Report for the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
“I believe that ensuring the safety and security of the American people is the most important job I have as member of Congress. To achieve that goal, we must support and properly fund our Armed Forces. Central Arkansas is home to many brave members of the active duty, reserve, and National Guard on Camp Robinson and Little Rock Air Force Base. The passage of the NDAA today signals to Arkansas’s service members and their families that their nation stands behind them 100%. I am pleased that two of my bills were included: H.R. 2249, the World War I Medals Review Act, to ensure medals earned are awarded, and H.R. 2033, to expand the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery.
“In October 2018, while working with Dr. Brian Mitchell from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, my office presented the family of Sergeant Leroy Johnston medals he earned but did not receive for his service in World War I because, like many soldiers of that era, Sergeant Johnston was a victim of discrimination. The World War I Valor Medals Review Act provides an opportunity to correct this injustice for countless American heroes and their families. This bill ensures that minorities who served in World War I are honored with the recognition they deserve on behalf of a grateful nation.
“Additionally, I am pleased that my bill to allow the Arkansas National Guard to release land on Camp Joseph T. Robinson to the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) was included. Expanding the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery ensures that we can continue to honor veterans and their families with fitting tributes that memorialize their service to our country. Transferring this land from the Arkansas National Guard to ADVA is an efficient and effective solution that benefits all Arkansans and enables the continuation of first burials beyond 2045, when the cemetery is currently predicted to reach capacity.”
In addition to including Congressman Hill’s World War I Medals Review Act (Section 548) and his legislation to expand the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery (Section 2832), the NDAA Conference Report includes H.R. 2483, the Fentanyl Sanctions Act (Title LXXII), which was introduced by Congressman Max Rose (D-NY). Congressman Hill is an original cosponsor of the Fentanyl Sanctions Act and was active in securing its inclusion in the NDAA. This bill combats the ongoing opioid crisis by strengthening penalties for fentanyl distribution and trafficking while also providing additional screening resources for the United States Postal Service.
The Conference Report also includes H.R. 31, the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (Title LXXIV). Congressman Hill is an original cosponsor of this bill and has been a leading voice in calling for its immediate passage. The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act imposes new sanctions on Syrian human rights abusers and those who facilitate the Bashar al-Assad regime’s atrocities.
The FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report also includes:
- Authorizing $738 billion in defense funding.
- Providing a 3.1% military pay-raise, the largest increase in a decade.
- Providing the resources to continue to rebuild readiness, advance modernization of the nuclear triad, develop emerging technologies, enhance missile defense, and confront our adversaries.
- Maintaining long-standing prohibitions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay, constructing detention facilities in the U.S., and closing Guantanamo.
- Providing an additional $5.3 billion in emergency funding for military installations damaged by natural disasters.
- A three-year phased repeal of the Widow’s Tax.