Monday, June 17, 2024

Kennedy-Backed Bills and Louisiana Priorities Included in National Defense Authorization Act

by BIZ Magazine

Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) celebrated a series of legislative victories for Louisiana communities as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the Senate. The bill not only funds key defense investments in the state but also includes two bills authored by Senator Kennedy aimed at countering Chinese aggression.

Senator Kennedy emphasized the importance of providing Americans with the protection of the world’s strongest and most capable troops while ensuring that service members are equipped with the necessary resources. “This bill raises their pay, funds key defense investments in Louisiana, and takes significant steps to counter Chinese aggression,” said Kennedy.

Pacific Islands Forum Partnership Act: Combating Chinese Aggression in the Pacific

One of the significant inclusions in the NDAA is the Pacific Islands Forum Partnership Act, a bill designed to address Communist China’s aggression in the Pacific Ocean. This legislation establishes a special envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), an international organization comprising Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island nations.

China has recognized the strategic importance of these Pacific Island nations and has already established its own special envoy to the PIF. The United States, following Senator Kennedy’s efforts, has appointed its own special envoy recently. However, Kennedy’s bill aims to make the position permanent and confirmed by the Senate, ensuring consistent engagement with the region. A special envoy would play a crucial role in addressing diverse threats posed by the communist regime, fostering trust, and promoting dialogue on economic, cyber security, and military concerns within the Pacific Islands.

Holding Foreign Insiders Accountable Act: Leveling the Playing Field

The NDAA also includes Senator Kennedy’s Holding Foreign Insiders Accountable Act, which targets executives of foreign companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges. The bill aims to subject these foreign executives to the same disclosure requirements that U.S.-based firms are mandated to follow.

By adhering to different rules, insiders at Beijing and Moscow-based companies have been able to evade billions in losses on the U.S. stock exchange, negatively impacting American investors. Senator Kennedy’s amendment seeks to put an end to opportunistic insider trading by requiring foreign executives to disclose trades immediately, bringing transparency and fairness to the market.

Military Construction Priorities for Louisiana

Senator Kennedy played a pivotal role in securing several victories for Louisiana in the NDAA, with notable funding allocations for military construction projects in the state. Some of the key wins include:

  • $112 million for a weapons generation facility at Barksdale Air Force Base
  • $13.4 million for an athletic track and field at Fort Johnson
  • $7 million for a dormitory at Barksdale Air Force Base
  • $7 million for a medical facility at Barksdale Air Force Base
  • $6.4 million for a communications grid at Naval Air Station New Orleans
  • $3.7 million for a dormitory at Camp Minden
  • $2.4 million for a dormitory at Camp Beauregard
  • $2 million for a child development center at Barksdale Air Force Base
  • $2 million for a National Guard readiness center at Camp Beauregard

General Defense Wins

Beyond Louisiana-specific priorities, the NDAA encompasses a range of general defense wins:

  • A 5.2% pay raise for military service members.
  • Increased funding for military recruitment efforts.
  • Support for the modernization of the U.S. nuclear force.
  • Ensuring military personnel actions are based on merit and performance.
  • Authorization for increased funding to enhance American weapons’ effectiveness and resilience against enemy attacks.
  • Funding for naval vessels, combat aircraft, armored vehicles, weapon systems, and munitions procurement.
  • Enhancing America’s capabilities for long-term strategic competition with China.
  • Establishing a comprehensive program to train, advise, and build institutional capacity for Taiwan’s military forces to counter Chinese aggression.
  • Support for U.S. defense activities relating to the AUKUS security partnership among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • Increased funding for Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard operations.
  • Prioritizing basing, training, and exercises in NATO countries that meet the defense spending goal of at least two percent of their gross domestic product by 2024.

The NDAA’s passage represents a significant milestone in bolstering national defense while addressing critical issues in the Indo-Pacific region and ensuring the well-being of the military and its personnel. The bill will now proceed to the next stage of legislative approval before becoming law.

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