U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a combat veteran and top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities (ETC), supported the final version of the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Ernst successfully secured a number of her key priorities in this year’s bipartisan defense bill, including much of her work to prevent military sexual assault, honor those who served in the Global War on Terrorism with a memorial on the National Mall, and hold Communist China accountable on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Having served over 23 years in the Armed Forces, I know firsthand how vitally important it is to ensure our men and women in uniform have the support and resources they need to defend America today and in the future,” said Senator Ernst, the first female combat veteran elected to the U.S. Senate. “I was proud to secure my key measures to prevent military sexual assault and hold perpetrators accountable; support Gold Star families; honor the men and women who fought and died in the Global War on Terrorism with a memorial on the National Mall; require the Pentagon to outline national security concerns after the haphazard Afghanistan withdrawal; and hold China accountable on the origins of COVID-19.”
Below are a few of Ernst’s provisions that were included in the FY22 NDAA.
Combats Military Sexual Assault
- Empowers independent military prosecutors to determine whether those accused of sexual assault, rape, murder, manslaughter, child endangerment, kidnapping, domestic violence, and stalking will be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Special trial counsels will be governed by a General Officer directly underneath the respective service branch secretary.
- Improves physical security measures on all military installations as effective deterrents to sexual assault.
- Establishes a Primary Prevention Workforce within the Department of Defense (DoD) tasked with educating servicemembers and their families on sexual assault and suicide prevention.
Creates Global War on Terrorism Memorial, Supports Gold Star Families
- Global War on Terrorism Memorial: Authorizes the location for the construction of a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
- Casualty Assistance Reform Working Group: This working group will be tasked with the initial steps of improving the professionalization of Gold Star family support, including the creation of standards and training for Chief Administrative Officers across the military, an evaluation of workflow across the departments, modernization efforts, and activation of a surviving and Gold Star family leadership council.
Takes Care of Our Servicemembers
- Female Body Armor: Fully funded procurements of protective body armor designed specifically for female troops across the total force, an effort Ernst has long fought for.
- Bereavement Leave: Creates a new category of leave for servicemembers dealing with the trauma of losing an immediate family member, defined as a spouse or child, for two weeks.
Accountability on Biden’s Disastrous Exit from Afghanistan
- A report on the risks associated with the withdrawal from Afghanistan: Directs the Secretary of Defense to report on the national security implications of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
- Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Prioritization: Requires DoD to develop a strategy to evacuate Special Immigrant Visa holders from Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal, vetted Afghans and their families who supported the U.S., and other U.S. agencies.
Holds Communist China Accountable on COVID-19
- Prohibits DoD from funding dangerous experiments by EcoHealth Alliance in China.
- Requires DoD and the Director of National Intelligence to assess the involvement of the Chinese Communist Party in the origins of COVID-19.
Ensures Iowa’s Role in Our National Defense
- Authorizes procurement of grenades, ship gun ammunition, mines, clearing charges, demolition munitions, artillery cartridges, artillery projectiles, extended range artillery rounds, propellants, fuses primers, and tank ammunition all made at IAAP.
- Requires testing for PFAS at identified National Guard sites, including the Iowa Air National Guard Base.