House GOP contingent from Pennsylvania help push defense spending compromise bill forward

The U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 14 passed the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 2810, with key support from Pennsylvania Republican Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, Patrick Meehan and Bill Shuster.

Specifically, House members voted 356 to 70 to approve the latest conference report to H.R. 2810 in a compromise that now moves the bill to the Senate, which is also expected to approve it this week and pass the bill to President Trump to become law.

The NDAA bill includes two amendments from Rep. Fitzpatrick to address the related health effects of groundwater contaminated by certain acids found in firefighting foam used at military installations. The amendments would require the Secretary of Defense to study the health effects of exposure to the chemicals and to report on progress in using alternatives.

“From addressing water contamination at former and active military installations, to putting American leadership and security first, I’m proud that House and Senate negotiators have agreed to my crucial, bipartisan amendments,” said Fitzpatrick, who authored or sponsored four other amendments included in the NDAA.

Congressman Meehan shared his colleague’s concern regarding contaminated groundwater near military facilities in their districts and said the NDAA makes “important progress in our bipartisan effort to ensure the Pennsylvania communities affected by water contamination are made whole.”

H.R. 2810 would authorize $7 million to fund a five-year study that would include exposure assessments of current or former defense installations, such as former Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, known to have contaminated drinking water, according to Meehan’s office.

“Since first becoming aware of these issues several years ago, our delegation has worked as a united front to help the communities and families affected understand and address the scope of the contamination,” said Meehan. “Including these provisions in the annual defense bill is an encouraging sign that Congress has recognized that this is an issue facing not just our community but potentially many others across the country.”

Another of Fitzpatrick’s amendments would require the Report on United States Strategy in Syria to describe the amounts and sources of ISIL financing in Syria and efforts around disrupting the financing as part of the broader U.S. strategy in Syria.

Rep. Shuster’s standalone bill, the Patriot Inventory Protection Act — which would ensure the U.S. Army’s ballistic-missile defense capacity — was incorporated into NDAA’s conference report, as was his language on base realignment and closure restriction.

“This bill is the result of a lengthy, bipartisan process to ensure the United States military’s needs are properly met,” said Shuster, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and a House conferee.

“The final NDAA is a strong bill which supports our troops and their families [and] rebuilds our military,” Shuster added. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done as a committee and a Congress to restore and strengthen the national defense.”