Op-ed: Protecting Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2016 fiscal year. This legislation is expected to pass through the Senate shortly and arrive on the President’s desk to be signed into law. Regrettably, the President has already threatened to veto this bill despite bipartisan support in Congress. I strongly urge him to reconsider his position. This legislation will provide the tools our war-fighters need to protect the freedom of American citizens and defend our national interests, while also preserving the future of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and the tens of thousands of jobs in South Jersey that depend on it.
The NDAA prohibits any base closures in the near future, provides a new retirement plan for our troops, executes a plan to combat Iran’s influence in the Middle East, establishes funding for Israeli missile defense, and gives a long overdue pay raise to our troops. A provision I proposed will also require the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs to collaborate on employment opportunities for our veterans, ensuring that service to our nation does not mean a lifetime of financial struggle. New Jersey ranks the second highest in veterans’ unemployment in the nation, and we must do better.
Importantly, the NDAA prohibits the early retirement of the KC-10 air-to-air refueling tanker, which is one of the most critical of the 80 missions at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. I proposed this provision and am grateful for the support of many colleagues, especially Democratic Rep. Don Norcross of New Jersey. JBMDL is one of the premier Air Mobility, Training and Technology hubs in the United States, which makes the Joint Base a unique and indispensable military asset to the United States Armed Forces.
Since it was first put in place over 50 years ago, the federal government has always passed the NDAA with support from both parties. Supporting our military readiness has never been a partisan issue, and it shouldn't be today. The NDAA is vitally important to our troops and their families, and both Democrats and Republicans were involved in negotiations to ensure passage in the House and Senate. This is the type of compromise we need more of in Washington, and I urge the President to reconsider his decision and put national security above any political issue that may be influencing his threat to veto the National Defense Authorization Act.