Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, was announced Wednesday as one of the conferees for the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2021 fiscal year.
The NDAA is discretionary funding passed every year to fund the armed services’ troops, domestic and international bases, weapons, personnel training, and benefits.
Rep. Carbajal’s role as a conferee is resolving differences between the House and Senate NDAA bills so they can be consolidated into a single piece of legislation. This is his second time serving as a conferee for the NDAA.
In an interview with the News-Press, the congressman said that one of the most significant and publicly known provisions of the 2021 NDAA is removing the names of Confederates from military installations. Both the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate passed bills to remove Confederate names, and Rep. Carbajal expressed how the NDAA and the House Armed Services Committee that develops the House’s version of the bill are one of a few examples of bipartisan cooperation in this era of divided politics.
“We have been able to work out our differences for 59 years,” he said.
According to congress.gov, the NDAA for the 2021 fiscal year is $731.6 billion dollars. Of that sum, $636.3 billion is for base Department of Defense programs, $69 billion is for overseas contingency operations, $26 billion is for Department of Energy national security programs and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, and $0.31 billion is for Maritime Administration defense activities.
Among the new NDAA’s provisions, Rep. Carbajal said, are the prohibition of funds for explosive nuclear weapons testing, $1 billion in additional funding for responding to future pandemics, and establishing a pilot program to address sexual assault in the military.
The 2021 NDAA would also prohibit the U.S. from supporting the Saudi-backed strikes against Yemen.
The congressman said there are five priorities that he hopes make it into the final NDAA. The first is the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which seeks to designate almost 250,000 acres of land in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument as protected wilderness.
Another provision he’d like to see passed in the final NDAA is one demanding that small passenger vessels have two avenues of escape. This he explained is inspired by the tragic Conception boat fire in 2019.
Rep. Carbajal would also like to see the final NDAA have a bill dedicating $11 million dollars to UCSB and $10 million to Cal Poly for partnerships with the Department of Defense for research and teaching, another directing the U.S. Navy to work with stakeholders on the Central Coast to create opportunities for offshore wind developments, and another increasing funding for space launch range services and commercial space operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base.