Scott Statement on House Passage of Defense Bill for FY 2020

December 11, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), the Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the Conference Report to Accompany S. 1790 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. Congressman Scott served as a conferee for the education and labor provisions contained in the House and Senate versions of the FY 2020 NDAA:

“Hampton Roads is the heart of our nation’s shipbuilding industrial base. I am pleased that the conference report for this year’s National Defense Authorization Act reaffirms the requirement that the United States Navy must maintain a minimum of 11 aircraft carriers and authorizes the first year of appropriations for the midlife refueling of USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Additionally, the conference report preserves a plan for the Navy to procure 10 Virginia-class submarines, and supports full funding for the Columbia-class submarine program. It also provides an additional $653 million for ship maintenance to address the ongoing backlog of ship and submarine maintenance. These provisions are beneficial not just to the Hampton Roads economy but are also critical to our national security.

“As Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, I was pleased to see workplace safety being prioritized in this bill by codifying the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s Maritime Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health. This committee brings unions, employers and maritime safety experts together to advise OSHA on improving protections for shipyard and longshore workers. By permanently establishing this committee, it will no longer be interrupted by lapses in its charter.

“As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government should be a leader in making workplaces more family friendly. I applaud the inclusion of paid parental leave for federal workers in this legislation. This is an important step toward ensuring all workers, no matter where they work or who they work for, have the right to take leave to welcome a child without worrying about loss of income or their jobs.

“In addition to supporting growing families with paid parental leave, this report provides for a 3.1 percent pay increase – the largest in a decade – for our men and women in uniform.  The so-called ‘widows-tax’ is also finally phased out, allowing tens of thousands of surviving military spouses to receive their full benefits.

“Finally, the conference report enacts several long overdue reforms to military family housing that will substantially increase oversight at all levels. Issues with military housing, including mold and inferior maintenance, have impacted many military families living in private military housing throughout Hampton Roads. The conference report requires the military services to create a Tenant Bill of Rights, establishes a new dispute resolution process that includes the ability to withhold Basic Allowance for Housing until a dispute is resolved, establishes new quality control measures, and increases health and hazard inspections. Subpar housing for those that are serving our nation is unacceptable and this year’s NDAA makes significant improvements to addressing this problem.

“Overall, the FY2020 NDAA will help strengthen our nation’s military, and protect our servicemembers, federal workers and our national security.”

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