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May 24, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today, which passed the House of Representatives by a 351 to 66 vote.        

NDAA for fiscal year 2019, H.R. 5515, provides a total of $708.1 billion in discretionary funding, including $639.1 billion in base budget and $69 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations. The added funding will further equip, supply, and train our troops while also caring for them and their families with the largest pay raise in nine years at 2.6 percent. The bill sets national security policy and acknowledges North Dakota’s prominent role in defending the nation’s freedoms with continued support of the Air Force Bases in Minot and Grand Forks, as well as the state’s Air and Army National Guard.  

“Our military readiness and welfare remain a top priority in Congress with increased defense spending and improved training operations,” said Cramer. “The men and women who serve already put their lives on the line, and we owe it to them to ensure they have the equipment, training, and benefits they need. With the assets our country has, we shouldn’t limit the resources our military needs to get the job done.”       

Cramer offered an amendment to the bill, which passed the House, to direct the Secretary of Defense to have the names of the 74 crew members who died in the sinking of the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans placed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. “The sacrifices of these veterans and their families are not only worthy of mention, but of the high honor of being memorialized forever on the wall,” said Cramer during a floor speech this week.  

While conducting friendly maneuvers with the Australian and New Zealand navies outside of the combat zone on June 3, 1969, the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans collided with the HMAS Melbourne aircraft carrier causing the wreckage. To read more about the incident click here.          

Cramer also supported an amendment from Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) which grants a waiver of time limitations so that the Distinguished-Service Cross can be awarded to Staff Sgt. Justin Gallegos, a soldier from Arizona who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Clint Romesha, a Medal of Honor recipient living in North Dakota, brought this issue to Cramer’s attention last year.

“This amendment opens the door to an act of recognition that is long overdue, deeply deserved, and absolutely the right thing to do,” said Romesha. “The battle in which Staff Sgt. Gallegos fought and perished took place on Oct. 3, 2009, and the heroics that he performed in combat were critical both to the successful defense of Combat Outpost Keating and the survival of all but eight members of Black Knight Troop. For almost a decade, the men who fought shoulder-to-shoulder with Staff Sgt. Gallegos, along with his wife, son, and members of his extended family, have all been patiently waiting for the Army to properly honor his sacrifice. I welcome this amendment and the commemoration made possible by it as an important final step in memorializing one of the finest soldiers, as well one of the bravest human beings, with whom I’ve ever had the honor to serve.”        

H.R. 5515 also supports Israel, the closest ally of the U.S. in the Middle East, by including $500 million for the Iron Dome missile detection, David’s Sling, and Arrow. In an effort to remain transparent and responsible with taxpayer money, NDAA directs the Department of Defense Chief Management Officer to eliminate redundancy and department-wide activities to carry out a 25 percent savings over the next three years.       

North Dakota Highlights:

  • Supports the President’s budget request to restore the nuclear arsenal and adds $325 million for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s nuclear weapons activities, including modernizing the nuclear weapon stockpile.
  • Provides increased funding to accelerate two key Air Force nuclear modernization programs: the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent and the Long-Range Standoff weapon.
    • Prohibits the reduction of intercontinental ballistic missiles. 
  • Provides $66 million for Minot Air Force Base for an aircraft maintenance unit and alert facility, facilities to house helicopters, and other construction projects.
  • Incudes over $90 million for procurement for B-52 bombers, flown out of Minot Air Force base.
  • Funds RQ-4 modifications commonly flown out of the Grand Forks Air Force base at $128 million.
    • Includes an additional $105 million for the EQ-4 unmanned aircraft system.    
  • Funds MQ-9 Reaper, flown by the North Dakota Air National Guard in Fargo, procurement at nearly $265 million.     

For more information, view the full summary of the bill here.