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House Passes Final Defense Authorization with Wexton Amendment to Support Servicemembers’ Transition Into Intelligence Workforce

Today, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) voted for the Conference Report on S. 1790, the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included paid parental leave for all federal workers and Wexton’s amendment to support military intelligence members as they transition into jobs in the public sector.

“This defense authorization demonstrates our bipartisan commitment to a smart and strong national security approach, including important priorities for Virginia such as paid leave for all federal workers and a pay raise for our servicemembers,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “I’m pleased that my amendment to support military intelligence members as they transition into new jobs requiring a security clearance was included in the final legislation. These servicemembers are doing important work in cyberspace operations, electronic warfare, and other critical need areas that can continue to benefit our intelligence agencies and protect our national security beyond their military service.”

This defense authorization supports a bipartisan, bicameral national defense strategy with a $738 billion defense budget, the most robust in our nation’s history. The legislation also includes provisions for paid parental leave for all federal workers, provides a 3.1% pay raise for all servicemembers, repeals the “widow’s tax,” establishes a much-needed tenant bill of rights for residents in private military family housing, and requires an intelligence assessment naming those responsible for the premeditated murder of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. The final bill also includes a House-passed provision to block the merger of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) with the General Services Agency (GSA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) without the review of an independent study.

Congresswoman Wexton, a vocal advocate for the inclusion of the paid parental leave policy in the final defense bill, hailed its passage as a major victory for federal workers and an important step towards a comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy for all Americans. 

Wexton’s amendment requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the feasibility of establishing a pilot program which would assist qualified servicemembers to obtain the necessary level of security clearance prior to beginning work in the intelligence community.

While the legislation authorizes a smart defense strategy which delivers for our servicemembers and their families, Wexton acknowledged several provisions from the House-passed NDAA that were not included in the final conference report, namely the designation of PFAS chemicals as a hazardous substance, blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia to cut off support for the Saudi war in Yemen, repeal of the outdated 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, and a reversal of the ban on transgender servicemembers.