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Congresswoman Jacobs Secures Key Wins on Child Care, Reproductive Health Care, Human Rights in NDAA 2023, Votes Yes

Committee adopts 11 amendments from Jacobs during 14-hour markup

Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) secured key wins for servicemembers and military families during the House Armed Services Committee markup of H.R. 7900, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023.

The Jacobs provisions included significant wins, to among other things, expand access to child care and reproductive health care, prevent civilian casualties and bolster human rights vetting of security sector assistance. These proposals were secured both in the NDAA’s base text and through the amendment process this evening. 

Congresswoman Jacobs opposed an amendment offered to increase the topline number in the bill by $37 billion dollars. Speaking forcefully against raising the Pentagon budget from $802 billion to nearly $840 billion, Jacobs said, “We need to have an honest conversation about the Pentagon budget. We need to ask ourselves what's achievable and deliverable, and make funding decisions, based on the threats of the future, and not the past. We need to make decisions based on threats, not what is good for our districts, and we need to actually prioritize. [...] There are some good things that would be funded in this addition, and there are some areas in the Defense budget, where we need to increase funding, especially as it relates to military personnel and families.”

Congresswoman Jacobs voted yes on final passage of the legislation, which will be considered on the House floor later this summer. H.R. 7900 bill text available here

“I was proud to secure significant provisions in this year’s NDAA markup that will support our service members and their families – through expanded access to child care and reproductive health care – and that will mandate fundamental reforms at the Department of Defense to prevent civilian casualties for the first time in a generation,” Congresswoman Jacobs said. “I am looking forward to building on these successes for my constituents, for servicemembers and families across the country, and for all those impacted by conflict around the world when the bill comes before the full House.”

“I am, however, deeply disappointed that the Committee voted once again to unnecessarily increase the Pentagon’s budget – far beyond what the Department of Defense itself requested – and I will continue to push for an honest discussion of our military spending. It’s unconscionable that we would continue to prioritize outdated, unnecessary weapons and legacy projects above the everyday needs of our servicemembers and their families.”

Legislative wins secured by Congresswoman Jacobs in the National Defense Authorization Act: 

Human Rights and Oversight of U.S. Military:

  • Prioritizing the prevention of civilian harm at the Department of Defense, including:

    • Establishing a Center of Excellence to prevent civilian harm in the U.S. military;

    • Establishing a Commission on Civilian Harm to look back at the past 20 years to learn lessons from civilian casualties;

    • Strengthening public reporting requirements on civilian harm;

    • Requiring a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the Department of Defense’s progress on implementing recommendations on the protection of civilians and efforts to prevent, mitigate, investigate, and respond to civilian harm in U.S. military operations.

  • Strengthening oversight of security assistance provided to Mozambique to prevent future human rights abuses.

  • Monitoring, evaluating, and learning of security assistance programs in Sahel

  • Prioritizing human rights in the Department of Defense security cooperation programs, Section 127e and Section 1202, and requiring greater Department of Defense oversight of the programs.

  • Incentivizing the Department of Defense to publish more unclassified reports to their website.

  • Requiring the Department of Defense to conduct annual reviews of U.S. security assistance to countries to assess atrocity risks.

  • Enhancing the Department of Defense’s Clandestine Quarterly report to include potential instances of intelligence failures and serious violations of law, E.O., and policy.

Support for Military Personnel and Families:

  • Expanding access to assisted reproductive health services, like IVF, to all service members who sustain an injury or illness on active duty that affects their ability to have children – including LGBTQ+ and unmarried service members.

  • Improving the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) – creating a new pilot program to broaden outreach and educate more service members and dependents on the programs available to prevent domestic violence. 

  • Expanding the Military Child Care In Your Neighborhood Plus Program – directing the Secretary of Defense to provide a briefing on the expansion of this initiative, which increases access to community-based and family child care, to California and other states that have high levels of child care need.

  • Expanding contraception coverage under TRICARE – fixing an oversight in the  Affordable Care Act that did not extend FDA-approved contraception without copays, to those using TRICARE.

  • Increasing pay for child care workers – requiring the Department of Defense to conduct regional pay studies and increase compensation for military child development center employees to be competitive with similarly credentialed elementary school employees.

  • Improving benefits for child care workers – requiring the Department of Defense to assess the feasibility of alternative benefit packages, including retirement, health care, insurance, and leave, that would be more attractive to employees of military child development centers.

  • Investing in child care center maintenance – requiring the military services to increase spending on facilities sustainment, restoration, and modernization for child development centers, ramping up to 5% of replacement cost within 4 years. 

  • Advancing child care partnerships – requiring the military services to report specific plans to Congress on the cost, benefits, and feasibility of entering into agreements with public- and private-sector entities to provide child care services to military families. 

  • Promoting child care fee assistance – requiring the military services to implement a promotion campaign to raise awareness of child care fee assistance options, including the in-home child care fee assistance pilot program that helps service members hire nannies and other in-home child care providers.

  • Requiring the Department of Defense to conduct a report to ensure there are an adequate number of school psychologists and student support staff at DoDEA schools.

  • Allowing military and family life counselors to provide critical non-medical counseling services at any location to ensure more expansive coverage for our service members. 

Improving Innovation and Military Readiness:

  • Securing funding for the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) to ensure reduced threats to military installation resilience.

  • Improving the Department of Defense’s innovation capabilities by encouraging collaboration with academics and researchers and investing in student talent.  

Key San Diego Stakeholder Wins:

  • Mobilizing civilian expertise for National Security Education to help strengthen existing programming at UCSD.

  • Restoring funding to the San Diego-based U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, which trains local marine mammals in mine-hunting and submarine defense. The Navy had initially proposed defunding the program and replacing marine mammals with underwater drones (UUVs) which have yet to complete full testing.