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Hickenlooper Cheers Inclusion of Colorado Priorities in Annual Defense Bill

Jul 27, 2023

Legislation passed the Senate with several Hickenlooper-led provisions, including the PUEBLO Act and the John Lewis Civil Rights Fellowship Act

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper applauded Senate passage of the bipartisan annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets national security policy and recommended spending levels for the Department of Defense. 

“This bill should be about strengthening our military and national security, not scoring cheap political points,” said Hickenlooper. “That’s exactly what our amendments focus on.”

The bill, which adheres to the $886 billion authorization limit outlined in the debt ceiling deal, authorizes a number of significant provisions that will strengthen our national security and reinforce American global engagement, including: 

  • A 5.2% pay raise for service members, the largest in over two decades

  • An additional $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative

  • An additional $5 million for an ongoing study on the health effects of PFAS found near military installations, including near Peterson Space Force Base in El Paso County

  • Implementing sustainability measures, including for the usage of sustainable building materials for military constructions projects and continuing education for resilient construction and design

  • Requiring the Secretary of Defense to establish a partner program with allies focused on developing renewable and more diverse operation energy sources to enhance energy security to promote the battlefield readiness of the U.S. armed forces

  • Extending the Secretary of Defense’s authority to provide temporary increases to the BAH for service members covered by natural disaster declarations, areas experiencing a sudden influx of military personnel, and in localities where actual housing costs differ from BAH rates by more than 20 percent

  • Strengthening and expanding U.S. cybersecurity efforts

Hickenlooper secured many amendments and provisions in the Senate version of the NDAA, including:

  • Hickenlooper’s bipartisan PUEBLO ACT: Directs the Army to close the Pueblo Chemical Depot using the Base Realignment and Closure process to transfer the remaining parcel of land back to the Pueblo community for economic development purposes 

  • Hickenlooper’s bipartisan John Lewis Civil Rights Fellowship ActEstablishes a new fellowship within the Fulbright Program to provide scholarships to Americans to study nonviolent civil rights movements abroad

  • National American Indian Charter Act: Cosponsored by Hickenlooper, the legislation grants the first-ever Federal charter to a Native American veterans organization to serve the interests of Native American veterans

  • Love Lives On Act: Cosponsored by Hickenlooper, the legislation would allow spouses of deceased service members to retain their survivor benefits from both the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the DoD upon remarriage at any age

  • FEND Off Fentanyl Act: Cosponsored by Hickenlooper, the legislation aims to combat the country’s fentanyl crisis and stop the flow of deadly fentanyl into American communities by targeting the illicit fentanyl supply chain

  • $179.7 million for DoD’s Readiness and Environmental Protection and Integration Program (REPI): The REPI program supports cost-sharing agreements between DoD and local governments to minimize land-use conflicts near military installations while enhancing conservation efforts. Colorado has significant REPI land parcels in both Aurora and Colorado Springs

    The Senate version of the NDAA also includes several efforts to strengthen U.S. military presence in Colorado, including: 
  • $12 million for Air National Guard Construction Projects at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. Hickenlooper directly requested and successfully secured this funding to upgrade the Corrosion Control Maintenance Facility for the 140th Wing

  • $15 million for the National Guard Readiness Center at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs

  • $14.7 million for Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program Projects at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora

  • Directing the Secretary of Defense to submit a report clarifying the ability of military service academy graduates, such as graduates of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, to pursue employment as professional athletes

Hickenlooper and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet also introduced an amendment to the NDAA to strike language added by U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville blocking funding for any U.S. Space Command military construction projects and freezing 50 percent of Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall’s travel budget until the Department issues a final basing decision on the permanent headquarters location.

The legislation now goes to conference between the House and the Senate before heading to President Biden’s desk to become law.


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