Political notebook: Rep. Richard Hudson and Sen. Thom Tillis champion upgrades to N.C. military

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 28, 2018

On May 24, the United States House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

The act included an amendment from North Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8, who represents Montgomery, Stanly, Moore, Cabarrus and Hoke counties, and parts of Rowan and Cumberland counties.

Fort Bragg falls within this district, and Hudson’s amendment sought to ensure soldier pay adequately reflects modern warfare demands.

“As Fort Bragg’s congressman, I take seriously my responsibility to guarantee our troops have the best tools, equipment and training,” said Rep. Hudson. “(This) legislation helps to fulfill that duty and … supports the most valuable asset we have — the individual soldier.”

The act authorizes $717 billion in defense spending, supporting increases in topline funding. In addition, it:

  • Provides troops a pay raise of 2.6 percent
  • Increases the size of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Naval and Air Reserve, as well as Air Guard.
  • Makes major reforms in Pentagon bureaucracy and streamlines buying practices to save tax-payer dollars.
  • Increases funding to rebuild the military and support readiness recovery.
  • Invests in missile defense and nuclear deterrents
  • Invests in other military capabilities to confront aggression and address threats
  • Authorizes funding for co-development and co-production of missile defense and weapon systems with Israel.
  • Advances innovative technologies

The same day, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, R-N.C., voted in favor of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the bill.

The committee voted 25-2 to pass the bill, supporting $716 billion, $1 billion less than the House’s version.

Some $260.1 million would go toward military construction funding for North Carolina.

This includes projects at Fort Bragg, Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, Camp Lejune and New River.

At Fort Bragg, projects include

  • $20.257 million for a Search Evade Rescue and Evacuation Resistance Training Lab Complex at the Special Operations Facility
  • $12.109 million for to replace the training maze and tower at the Special Operations Facility
  • $10 million for a dining facility

Cherry Point projects include:

  • $106.86 million for flightline utility modernization and maintenance upgrades to runways
  • $27 million for a aircraft maintenance hangar for the Vertical Lift Fan Test Facility

Camp Lejune could receive $51.3 million for Phase 2 of a second Radio BN Complex, and New River $32.58 million for an Ambulatory Care Center/Dental Clinic replacement.

The legislation makes critical improvements to North Carolina’s military installations, It could provide a slightly higher increase in pay for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, 2.9 percent rather than the House’s 2.6.

The act includes reforms pushed by Tillis impacting how the United States military manages, trains, retains, and recruits its officer corps.

The subcommittee markup also addresses the opioid crisis, provides impact aid for local educational agencies, supports military spouses, and establishes policies and procedures to end juvenile sexual assault and harassment, domestic violence, and child abuse.

“This NDAA is a testament to our commitment to rebuild the military and ensure our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to protect our nation,” said Sen. Tillis.

Budd’s co-led bipartisan COACH Act advances to House

A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, R-13, advanced to the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday for consideration.

The COACH Act would require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop an evidence-based best practices toolkit for hospitals to reduce opioid misuse.

It also would streamline other opioid-related processes by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and more.

Budd, who represents Davie and Davidson counties and parts of Rowan, called the opioid epidemic a “national crisis.”

“Addressing it will continue to be at the top of my priority list,” he said. “… The COACH Act includes provisions that aim to ensure medical providers have reliable, evidence-based resources to encourage safer use of prescription opioids.”

Budd said the act also provides tools to mitigate some of the unnecessary prescribing of opioids.

“I’m encouraged that this bill, and many others related to battling this epidemic, advanced last week,” he said. “I now look forward to this legislation getting to the House floor — the sooner it does, the more tools we’ll have in our toolkit in the long-term fight.”