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Peters Votes To Give Servicemembers Pay Raise, Strengthen National Security & Support Michigan’s Defense Sector

Peters Helps Advance Bipartisan National Defense Bill to Full Senate

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) helped advance the bipartisan annual national defense bill to the full Senate, voting to give servicemembers a pay increase and greater access to benefits, and for measures to strengthen our national security and support Michigan’s defense sector.

“From serving on the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic to leading innovative projects at testing facilities throughout the state, Michiganders have continually displayed the unique skillsets and dedication that are critical to our national security,” said Senator Peters, a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I was proud to help advance this bill that would give our servicemembers a raise and includes provisions I authored to ensure servicemembers receive increased access to important benefits, strengthen key alliances, protect our medical supply chain and support cutting-edge defense manufacturers in every corner of our state.”

The National Defense Authorization Act, which sets annual policy for the Department of Defense (DOD), has been enacted into law for 59 consecutive years. The following provisions Peters led or supported were included in the Senate Armed Services Committee-approved bill:

 Supporting Our Troops and Their Families:

  • Pay Raise for Troops: This bill includes a 3% pay increase for all servicemembers that Peters supported.
  • Ensuring National Guardsmen, Reservists and Their Families Receive the Benefits They Have Earned: The bill builds on a provision Peters secured in last year’s defense bill to ensure members of the National Guard and Reserves receive a record of service following their retirement. This year’s provision will provide members of the National Guard and Reserve components a “Certificate of Military Service” that summarizes their record of service and will be the same form received by servicemembers from the active component of the Armed Forces. This type of form, which is currently labeled a DD-214 form, is usually required by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other private sector organizations to unlock certain benefits.
  • Promoting Youth STEM Education Programs in Michigan: This bill authorizes $15 million for STARBASE, a DOD Youth Program that promotes STEM education. Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township is home to the first STARBASE program, which specifically provides K-12 students unique experiences in experiential learning, simulations and experiments in aviation and space-related fields.
  • Supporting JROTC STEM Programs: The bill includes a measure Peters supported to form a grant program for Junior ROTC organizations that focus on STEM education, including cyber security training.

Strengthening Our National Security:

  • Protecting Our Medical Supply Chain: As Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters released a 2019 report identifying the national security risks of our country’s overreliance on foreign sources for critical medications and medical supplies – including adversaries like China. Peters sponsored an amendment that was adopted to require the Government Accountability Office to assess the Department of Defense’s current pharmaceutical and medical device contracts and identify opportunities to invest in domestic advanced manufacturing capacity for these items.
  • Bolstering Anti-Espionage Efforts: This bill contains a bipartisan amendment Peters co-authored to help universities protect critical defense research from espionage by our nation’s adversaries, including the Chinese government. The amendment would specifically require high-ranking officials at universities that conduct sensitive defense research to receive briefings on the espionage risk to those projects.
  • Funding the Pacific Deterrence Initiative: This bill authorizes $1.4 billion that Peters helped secure for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which works to defend American interests in the Indo-Pacific region against aggression and coercion by the Chinese government.
  • Strengthening the U.S.-Israeli Defense Partnership: This bill includes an amendment Peters sponsored to establish a working group between the United States and Israel focused on developing defense technology. This builds upon Peters’ bipartisan legislation to increase coordination on conducting research and developing technology to combat threats faced by both the United States and Israel.
  • Bolstering America’s Cybersecurity Defenses: The bill includes a provision based on legislation Peters introduced to develop pilot programs for the National Guard to provide remote cybersecurity support and technical assistance to states responding to cyber incidents. State and local governments increasingly find themselves targeted by high-profile cyber-attacks, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and threatening the data privacy of millions of Americans.

Investing in Michigan’s Defense Sector and Advanced Technology:

  • Bolstering Missile Defense: The bill includes a requirement Peters supported for the DOD to study a layered approach to homeland missile defense. Peters offered an additional amendment requiring that study to include the possibility of locating any future missile defense sites at locations that have already been evaluated by the Department, including Fort Custer near Battle Creek.
  • Cybersecurity Grants for Small and Medium Manufacturers: The bill contains an amendment Peters introduced to provide grants to Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers to be used to assist small and medium manufacturers with meeting new federal cybersecurity standards — which are set to be phased-in as a requirement starting this year. Peters has previously worked to strengthen and cement the MEP program and the Michigan Manufacturing and Technology Center (MMTC), which provides technical assistance to small and medium-sized manufacturers.
  • Supporting Defense Research Initiatives at the Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC): This bill authorizes an increase of $18 million Peters secured for projects currently underway at the Ground Vehicle Systems Center in Warren that are focused on modeling and simulation and unmanned capabilities, including immersive virtual modeling and simulation techniques, cyber and connected vehicle innovation research and virtual experimentations enhancement efforts.
  • Prohibits the Retirement of the A-10 Warthog: This bill includes an amendment Peters cosponsored to prohibit retiring the A-10 in Fiscal Year 2021. The A-10 still plays an important role in counterterrorism and combat search and rescue missions, and the bill prohibits divesting of that aircraft in FY21 and requires the Air Force to provide a briefing to Congress on the future of the A-10. Selfridge Air National Guard Base hosts an A-10 fighter mission.
  • Establishing a Quantum Research and Development Program: This bill includes a provision Peters authored to improve a research and development program for quantum computers, including developing a list of problems for which quantum computers are uniquely suited.

Other Provisions:

  • Renaming Military Bases Currently Named After Confederates: The bill includes a provision Peters supported and that was approved unanimously by Democrats and Republicans that instructs the DOD to remove names, symbols, or monuments that honor the Confederate States of America and those who served the Confederacy voluntarily from all Department of Defense installations.
  • Improving Recruiting Efforts: The bill includes a provision Peters authored that instructs the Secretary of Defense to work with senior officials from the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice to address issues that negatively impact military recruiting efforts.