Measures for Vandenberg Space Force Base and other Central Coast entities were included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support this week.
The legislation was approved Wednesday by a vote of 316-113. The bill now goes to the Senate and includes proposals made by U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara.
“The bill includes my legislation to protect over 250,000 acres of public lands on the Central Coast, extends the lifesaving FireGuard program to help us detect and monitor wildfires, gives our service members a pay raise, and much more,” Rep. Carbajal said in a news release. “This bill is a major win for our troops, our communities and our country.”
Rep. Carbajal supported the legislation’s $5 million increase to Spacelift Range System, which would improve the infrastructure at ranges including the ones at Vandenberg Space Force Base.
The congressman also secured a provision that requires the chief of space operations to create a plan to address challenges to long-term infrastructure at U.S. Space Force launch ranges.
Rep. Carbajal co-sponsored an amendment that would prevent the construction of SPACECOM (U.S. Space Command) headquarters in Alabama until the General Accounting Office and Department of Defense inspector general’s site inspections are completed. (The congressman previously supported efforts to make Vandenberg the headquarters for Space Command.)
The National Defense Authorization Act also includes Rep. Carbajal’s Central Coast Protection Act, which designates more than 250,000 acres in Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument as “wilderness” to protect the land’s future. The bill also helps 468 wildlife species and more than 1,200 plant species and addresses the climate crisis.
Rep. Carbajal introduced an amendment, which authorizes the FireGuard program for five years. The amendment passed.
The program uses Department of Defense resources to help local jurisdictions detect and monitor wildfires.
And the congressman led several bipartisan amendments to make military assets more compatible with wind energy opportunities, according to the news release.
In addition, Rep. Carbajal helped to pass a measure that allows the defense secretary to provide a basic needs allowance to qualified service members. This would be based on the Military Hunger Prevention Act, which the congressman co-sponsored.
The defense bill includes a 2.7% pay raise for U.S. service members.
And Rep. Carbajal led a bipartisan amendment to prevent people convicted of a felony hate crime from receiving a waiver to enlist in the military.
Rep. Carbajal also co-sponsored an amendment to include Sgt. First Class Javier J. Gutierrez Purple Heart Survivor Naturalization Fee Relief Act in the bill. The amendment waives fees for immediate relatives of Purple Heart recipients who are pursuing naturalization.
And Rep. Carbajal helped to secure $4 million for biotechnology advancements at University Affiliated Research Centers. These funds would advance research at the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, an Army-sponsored UARC that is led by UCSB.