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Hickenlooper Cheers Passage of Colorado Priorities in Annual Defense Bill

Dec 13, 2023

Final NDAA package heads to the president’s desk with 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 Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets national security policy and recommended spending levels for the Department of Defense. This final version, called a conference report, resolved differences between the initial House and Senate versions of the NDAA, which passed earlier this year.

“This is bipartisanship at work! The House and Senate rose above politics to deliver for Colorado and our military,” said Hickenlooper. “This legislation invests in service members and their families, as well as our national security.”

Hickenlooper secured many legislative provisions in the final NDAA, including:

  • Hickenlooper’s bipartisan PUEBLO ACT: Directs the Army to close the Pueblo Chemical Depot and transfer the remaining parcel of land back to the Pueblo community for economic redevelopment

“Our bill is the result of collaboration between the Pueblo community, our military, and advocates in Colorado and Washington who know the value of investing in southern Colorado,” said Hickenlooper. “This next step for the Pueblo Chemical Depot land will create new jobs and supercharge Pueblo’s economy – let’s finish the job!

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

“John Lewis fought for freedom and equality his entire life and inspired countless to follow in his footsteps,” said Senator Hickenlooper. “This fellowship will ensure his legacy echoes across future generations of civil rights leaders.” 

  • Plan for a Long-Term Fighter Force Structure: Based on Hickenlooper’s bipartisan Fighter Force Preservation and Recapitalization Act, this language directs the U.S. Air Force to develop a plan for the long term recapitalization of both active and reserve components of the Air Force. The NDAA also includes a provision preventing the retirement of F-16C/D aircraft until such a report is provided to Congress.

  • Space National Guard Study: Cosponsored Hickenlooper, this amendment directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study to assess the feasibility of establishing a Space National Guard

  • 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

The bill authorizes a number of significant provisions that will strengthen our national security and reinforce American global engagement, including:

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

  • Supporting Allies and Partners: Authorizes $14.7 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, creates a comprehensive military training program for Taiwan, and establishes coordinators at State and Defense Departments to facilitate a trilateral security partnership with Australia and the UK

  • Space: Directs the Pentagon to better collaborate with the commercial space industry, including establishing guidelines for sharing threat information to companies operating satellites and integrating commercial data into space domain awareness

  • Innovation: Authorizes $145 billion for research and development across multiple sectors, including cutting-edge technology

  • Cybersecurity: Authorizes $150 million over five years to bolster the Department of Defense’s cybersecurity and IT efforts and encourages the State Department to bolster cybersecurity assistance to partner nations

  • Critical Minerals: Requires the government to develop a strategy for critical mineral independence, expands critical minerals research at universities, and bolsters our national mineral stockpile with domestic production

  • Sustainability: Extends a pilot program for the usage of sustainable building materials for military construction projects and funds continuing education for resilient construction and design

The legislation includes numerous policy priorities that are important to Colorado communities, including:

  • Addressing PFAS Contamination: Authorizes $1.1 billion for environmental remediation of PFAS and other toxins at DoD bases, including Peterson Space Force Base in El Paso County

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

  • FireGuard: Reauthorizes the FireGuard program, which relies on members of the National Guard in Colorado and California to detect and monitor wildfires, as well as any emergency response

  • Service Academies: 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

The Fiscal Year 2024 NDAA also includes substantial investments that will strengthen the 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

  • $3 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

  • $9.282 million for facility improvements to the Air Force Academy

Before the bill went to the conference committee, Hickenlooper and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet received unanimous Senate support for their recommendation to add a measure to protect military construction funding for Space Command Headquarters in Colorado. Hickenlooper’s measure, cosponsored by Bennet, sought to counteract efforts by the Alabama Congressional delegation to undermine the Biden administration’s final decision to keep Space Command HQ in Colorado. 

The legislation now goes to President Biden’s desk to become law.


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