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GALLAGHER OPENING STATEMENT AT SUBCOMMITTEE ON MILITARY PERSONNEL MARKUP

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, delivered the following opening statement at the subcommittee markup for H.R. 4350 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022. The Subcommittee’s mark is available here.
 
Rep. Gallagher’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

I thank the Chairwoman and my fellow subcommittee members for their dedication and hard work that went into this mark, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  I also want to thank Ranking Member Jim Banks the previous Ranking Member of the Military Personnel Subcommittee with leaving me in a great position to achieve a number of our Members’ legislative priorities.  

I am pleased the subcommittee mark that we are considering, builds upon many of the important reforms this Committee has dedicated itself to in previous NDAAs.  The mark includes vital provisions that support our war fighters, military families, and retirees and gives them the care and support they need, deserve, and have earned.   

Specifically, this year’s proposal continues to build the Space Force with an increase in end-strength.   However, the decreases in end-strength for the Active Components of  Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force will be monitored closely… to ensure we do not stretch the Joint Force too thin.  This proposal also includes an extension of special pay and bonuses for service members in high demand fields… and supports a military basic pay raise by 2.7%.  

The mark continues the committee’s dedicated work in support of the military family.  The proposed mark increases the allowable parental leave for primary and secondary caregivers including foster parents.  It also expands the in-home childcare pilot program by providing financial assistance for in-home childcare services and establishes an Advisory Council for the Exceptional Family Member Program.  

Another important section in the proposal requires the Department of Defense to review, assess, and standardize the definition of professional military education across the Joint Force.  There is also the requirement for a report on how the art of wargaming is used at the War Colleges and military postgraduate institutions.  Additionally, there is a report that looks at manning of military specialties requiring digital technical skills and artificial intelligence to include a review of the need for a US Digital Service Academy.  

The proposed mark requires comprehensive reform of domestic violence policy and programs in the military.  The proposal expedites the process to authorize exceptional eligibility for certain benefits to victims of domestic abuse. It also strengthens military installation relationships with civilian Family Advocacy organizations… and aims to improve awareness and training about Family Advocacy Programs for military leaders and beneficiaries.

The proposal also includes several provisions addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.   It requires the Secretary of Defense to establish a system to track and record information on administration of all vaccines.   Additionally, it requires a briefing on the development of a domestic production capability for critical active pharmaceutical ingredients and final dosage form medicines.  

Finally, the proposed mark would continue to build on critical reforms in previous NDAAs and requires further refining of sexual assault prevention and response programs for service members and victims.  It also provides additional oversight of the Military Health System to include prohibiting further realignment of military medical end strength until a review of medical manpower requirements by the GAO can be conducted.  It also requires a study of the Autism Demonstration Program, a blast injury health policy review, and a review of the Department of Defense contribution to the National Disaster Medical System.

In conclusion, I want to thank Chairwoman Speier and my colleagues on the subcommittee for their considerable work on this mark.  I also want to thank our staff on the minority Glen Diehl and Forrest McConnell… and on the majority Ilka Regino, Dave Giachetti, Hannah Kaufman and Sidney Faix who worked in a bipartisan manner to support all of the Members of the Military Personnel Subcommittee.  I yield back.  

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