Bustos Helps Pass Strong National Defense Bill

Package includes Bustos-Authored Amendments to Recognize WWII Cadet Nurses and to Fund Innovative Digital Defense Designs

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), a member of the powerful House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, helped pass the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of the House.

Passed annually, the package provides a pay raise for members of the military, strengthens access to health care including mental and reproductive health care for service members, combats sexual assault and harassment in the military, supports new tools to deter aggression from Russia and China and action against transnational threats, includes a historic 32 percent increase in defense-wide research and development as well as $2.5 billion to fix aging infrastructure, and builds on bipartisan action in passing Special Immigrant Visa legislation to provide for the relocation of Afghan allies and partners.

“I’m proud to help pass a bipartisan, bicameral National Defense Authorization Act that will recognize our history while investing in our future,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “From finally recognizing the service of World War II’s cadet nurses to investing in cost-efficient and effective digital defense designs to fighting for continued support for C-130H aircraft like those used in Peoria’s 182nd Airlift Wing, this package upholds our region’s strong tradition of service and includes critical initiatives necessary for our nation’s security.”

The bill includes key Bustos provisions to recognize the service of Cadet Nurses during World War II and strengthens our military with the defense technologies needed for tomorrow.

Congresswoman Bustos fought to include provisions that:

  • Recognize the service of the Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II. In the midst of WWII, a severe shortage of trained nurses threatened the nation’s ability to meet domestic and military medical needs. In response, Congress established the Cadet Nurse Corps, an integrated, uniformed service of the Public Health Administration, in 1943. The Cadet Nurse Corps provided young women with expedited nursing education in exchange for “service in essential nursing for the duration of the war.” In 1944, the Federal Security Agency identified “national recognition for rendering a vital war service” as a privilege of service in the Corps. This recognition will provide an honorable discharge from the Department of Defense, a service medal and graveside marker. This provision was included as an amendment authored by Congresswoman Bustos.
  • Provide key support and funding to Military Initiative Institute (MII) priorities in Illinois. These provisions provide innovation to the Department of Defense at the speed of relevance using cost-efficient and effective digital defense designs, saving precious money and time in defense manufacturing. These provisions were included as two amendments authored by Congresswoman Bustos.
  • Authorizes the establishment of a memorial for service members of the Global War on Terrorism on the National Mall. This memorial would recognize all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the War on Terror, beginning with September 11, 2001. This provision was included as an amendment cosponsored by Congresswoman Bustos.
  • Expand benefits for Gold Star family members with access to free military aircraft space available travel and free access to National Parks. This provision was included as an amendment co-sponsored by Congresswoman Bustos.
  • Continues the fight for the C-130 Hercules and the history of excellence by the men and women of the Illinois Air National Guard at Peoria’s 182d Airlift Wing. Requires the Secretary of the Air Force to report on its justification for the C-130 total aircraft inventory reduction, considering such recommendation is inconsistent with both historic and recent requirements studies.

Other priorities of Congresswoman Bustos in the bill include:

  • Gives Our Troops a Pay Raise and Protects Their Safety: Authorizes a 2.7 percent military pay raise, protects their health by cleaning up so-called PFAS “forever chemicals” and advances justice with improvements to sexual assault prevention and response.
  • Strengthens Our Military Families: Includes important fixes to expand paid parental leave for military caregivers. This package also includes requirements for improvements to military housing.
  • Improves Military Health: Makes it easier to seek mental health care and removes contraceptive copays for military sponsored healthcare putting it in line with commercial options.
  • Supports Buy in America Efforts: Raises the required percentage of domestic products used by the Department of Defense be bought in America.