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$100 million Scott mission center included in latest defense budget

The new National Defense Authorization Act includes $100 million in military construction for a new Joint Operations and Mission Planning Center at Scott Air Force Base, said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who sought the funds.

Other Duckworth provisions will help protect service members from toxic chemicals, support Illinois  jobs and shield veterans from deportation, she said.

The Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that passed the U.S. Senate on a bipartisan vote of 86-8 now heads to the President’s desk for his signature. The act authorizes funding for the U.S. Department of Defense, sets the nation’s defense policy and ensures that servicemembers have the tools they need to defend our nation. Duckworth is a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

Duckworth, D-Illinois, also successfully included provisions that will:

·         Authorize $127 million in funding for the Joint DOD-VA Medical Facility, the Lovell Health Care Center in North Chicago, Illinois.

·         Make voting easier for servicemembers by providing them with the ballots and registration cards necessary to vote while deployed overseas along with instruction from trained personnel on how to cast their vote in their registered state.

Require DOD to issue a report on food insecurity among members of the Armed Forces and their dependents due to Congress no later than May 1, 2020.

Allow the National Guard to access Defense Environmental Remediation Account funds for the limited purpose of addressing PFOS and PFOA exposure.

·         Require DOD to establish a comprehensive, department-wide plan to prevent military sexual assault.

·         Allow TRANSCOM to move forward on its efforts to reform the Defense Personal Property Program only after it submits an analysis to Congress on the different options available.

·         Secure the procurement of eight new F-15EXs and four C-130Js.

The FY2020 NDAA also includes several provisions Duckworth supported that will:

·        Authorize 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees.

Expanding paid family is a major priority, Duckworth said. She has introduced legislation that would update the Family and Medical Leave Act to help more educational support professionals at schools – teacher’s assistants, custodians and maintenance staff, among others – access its benefits without the risk of losing their job. Duckworth also helped introduce the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would establish a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program that will provide 12 weeks of paid leave for workers who need time to care for a newborn or adopted child, a seriously ill family member, or their own serious health condition.

·        Prohibit federal agencies and federal contractors from asking about a job applicants’ criminal history prior to the extension of a conditional offer of employment. A criminal conviction is a tremendous barrier to employment for formerly incarcerated individuals, but this provision will give them a much better chance of gaining employment and beginning a new chapter in their lives.

·        Fix the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (SBP/DIC) offset, known as the widow’s tax. Duckworth helped introduce the Military Widow’s Tax Elimination Act in March of this year.

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