Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s Office–
On December 8, the House passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). At Congressman McCarthy’s request, this bill includes multiple priorities to support and advance the critical work of the men and women at Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base, both located in the 23rd Congressional District of California. The Senate is expected to take up and approve the FY23 NDAA so that it can be sent to the President to be signed into law.
Congressman McCarthy released the following statement:
“Following months of negotiations, I am glad to report that this year’s NDAA includes critical authorities that will empower our community and bolster our national security efforts. Having met and worked with officials at NAWS China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base, I am pleased that this bill contains – at my request – a number of priorities for these military installations which are indispensable to our nation’s defense. This bill includes language that supports the revitalization of key infrastructure, ensuring that both NAWS China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base are well-positioned for the future.
“After putting pressure on the White House and President Biden last week, I am also proud to report that through this legislation, House Republicans have successfully repealed the current COVID vaccine mandate in place for our servicemembers which has led to one of the worst military recruiting crises in decades.
“This bill moves our defense priorities in the right direction and our Republican majority in the 118th Congress stands ready to make even greater inroads to support our military and advance our national security interests.”
The FY23 NDAA includes the following provisions that are important to the military equities in the 23rd Congressional District of California:
Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake Boosting Water Security for China Lake. To ensure China Lake is well-positioned to thrive in the years ahead, the FY23 NDAA includes language at Rep. McCarthy’s request that directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to work with local authorities to help address groundwater issues for the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin to ensure the installation and region has access to reliable and affordable water supplies.
Prioritizing China Lake’s Earthquake Recovery Effort. The FY23 NDAA includes language at Rep. McCarthy’s request that ensures the Navy continues to prioritize China Lake’s earthquake recovery efforts. This language underscores the importance of NAWS China Lake and helps to elevate the recovery efforts to ensure the $3.4B in funding that Rep. McCarthy secured is reinvested as expeditiously as possible.
Improving the Defense Community Infrastructure Program. The FY23 NDAA includes language at Rep. McCarthy’s request that amends the Defense Community Infrastructure Program to allow community infrastructure on a lease or easement on DoD property to qualify for the program. This grant program awards funding to community infrastructure projects that benefit the military installation and could help serve as a funding mechanism for certain local projects that enhance base operations. This change would allow the City of Ridgecrest’s proposed wastewater treatment facility to be eligible for the grant program since the proposed facility would also benefit NAWS China Lake.
Advancing Key Military Construction Projects. Currently, military bases like NAWS China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base have temporary authority to bypass bureaucratic red tape for smaller military construction projects. To allow our military bases to move forward with construction projects that currently cost more than $6 million, the FY23 NDAA includes language at Rep. McCarthy’s request increasing the project cap from $6 million to $9 million for this authority and making this authority permanent. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Rocket Lab
Prioritizing Funding to Recapitalize Rocket Booster Testing Facilities. The FY23 NDAA includes language at Rep. McCarthy’s request that requires the Air Force Secretary to upgrade rocket booster test facilities in support of hypersonic development projects, which will help ensure that key test facilities are ready to support future test efforts.
Developing a Strategy to Recapitalize Rocket Propulsion Test Facilities. The FY23 NDAA includes language at Rep. McCarthy’s request that directs the Secretary of Defense to develop a strategy to recapitalize test facilities for the AFRL Rocket Lab, ensuring this important facility has the resources needed to support the advancement of critical rocket propulsion technology at Edwards Air Force Base and complements efforts underway at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
Edwards Air Force Base
Establishing Permanent Pathways to Advance Defense Lab Construction Projects. The FY23 NDAA includes language at Rep. McCarthy’s request that would make the Defense Laboratory Modernization Pilot Program permanent. This authority provides another viable path for much-needed defense lab infrastructure projects, including those that support important test work at Edwards Air Force Base, to move forward.
Addressing Housing Shortages. Because base housing shortages are impacting many individuals at Edwards Air Force Base and other installations around the country, the FY23 NDAA includes language at Rep. McCarthy’s request to address this issue. Specifically, this language directs the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Energy, Installations, and Environment to conduct an assessment of how the Air Force will be addressing housing shortages at its bases and make recommendations to Congress to help address this challenge.
Strengthening Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Because of the challenges servicemembers are having finding affordable housing, the FY23 NDAA includes language at Rep. McCarthy’s request to help address this issue. Specifically, this language requires the Secretary of Defense to provide recommendations to Congress on how to improve the BAH formula, which is a housing allowance for servicemembers who are not furnished housing provided by the government, so that servicemembers can have more affordable housing options.