The U.S. Senate on June 18 passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which includes support for the National Guard and defense manufacturing championed by Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons.

“The annual defense spending authorization bill is a crucial piece of legislation that funds our military and helps to enhance our national security.” said Carper. “By working together with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we were able to pass a thoughtful piece of legislation that contains a number of Delaware priorities — including the largest military pay raise since 2010. As a 23-year veteran of the Navy, I know just how important this bill is for all the men and women who serve our country, and I’m pleased that we could come together in a bipartisan way to ensure its swift passage.”

“I’m very proud that this bill includes measures to support Delaware service members, their families and our military,” said Coons. “It will provide benefits that our Guardsmen and Reservists have earned, modernize New Castle’s C-130H aircraft, provide a well-deserved pay raise for our troops, and strengthen the cybersecurity of the defense industrial supply chain. These are big wins for Delaware, our military and our country.”

Currently, members of the National Guard and Reserves mobilized under so-called “12304b authority” perform the same duties as their active duty counterparts, but they are not provided the same benefits. The bill includes two provisions from the National Guard and Reserve Benefits Parity Act, which Coons introduced with Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, to fix that discrepancy. First, it would provide guardsmen and reservists with a monthly allowance if they are deployed for long-term or multiple deployments within a single year. Second, the bill would protect federal civilian employees, who are members of the guard and reserve, from a reduction in pay when activated under “12304(b) authority.” These provisions will ensure that guardsmen and reservists are fairly compensated for their service to our country.

The bill also authorizes a 2.6 percent across-the-board pay raise for members of the Armed Forces to help improve their quality of life, as they and their families are asked to do more in response to rising security threats around the world.

The bill continues modernization of and improvements to the National Guard’s C-130H aircraft. The bill authorizes $22.1 million for C-130H modernization and an increase of $74 million for engine upgrades to the aircraft. Funding for modernization will keep Delaware’s 166th Airlift Wing on pace to continue flying after stricter airspace regulations take effect in 2020. Funding for engine upgrades will increase the performance, fuel efficiency and reliability of the Delaware Guard’s C-130H fleet.

Many Department of Defense suppliers are small manufacturers who do not have the resources or knowledge to comply with federal cybersecurity requirements aimed at protecting sensitive information. The bill authorizes provisions from the Enhance Cybersecurity for Small Manufacturers Act, which Coons introduced with Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, to give the Department of Defense and NIST additional tools to help small manufacturers in the defense supply chain assess and eliminate cybersecurity risks. The bill also authorizes a Cybersecurity for Manufacturing Hub that leverages the Manufacturing USA Network to increase the cyber resilience of small manufacturers through targeted outreach, testing and training.