Washington D.C. (KELO AM) - U.S. Representative Kristi Noem joined the House of Representatives in passing the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense policy bill that is authored by the House Armed Service Committee, which Rep. Noem serves on. While debating the bill in the full House, Reps. Noem, Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mike Coffman (R-CO), and Niki Tsongas (D-MA) offered an amendment to expand maternity leave for active duty service members from six weeks to 12. The amendment was accepted unanimously.
“It was humbling to pay tribute to our fallen heroes this Memorial Day by passing a defense policy bill that prioritizes the safety and readiness of today’s troops,” said Rep. Noem. “I’m proud the legislation helps maintain and improve equipment and training for our women and men in the field. While readiness and safety are a top priority, we also made sure military families are taken care of by stopping the out-of-pocket cost increases that the White House proposed and giving new military moms the option of more time with their children before returning to active duty.”
Noem originally introduced the MOM Act (H.R.4628) on May 9 along with Reps. Duckworth and Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam). The legislation aligns access to maternity leave for female service members with the Family and Medical Leave Act guidelines available to federal employees. The amendment was included in the FY2015 NDAA without objection.
“Moms in the military make incredible sacrifices, not just for their children, but for their country,” said Rep. Noem. “The least we can do is give them enough time at home to connect with their newborn and recover physically before returning to active duty service.”
In addition to the MOM amendment, the FY2015 NDAA included language written by Rep. Noem that would help prioritize the Joint Threat Emitter – a critical training tool for combat aircrews.
The bill also includes a provision that would set aside funding for ejection seat upgrades. Such upgrades would help prevent injuries sustained by the pilots that are forced to eject, like those from South Dakota whose B-1 crashed last August.
A critical Impact Aid provision was also renewed for another two years to help give financial certainty to schools that have funding challenges due to the amount of federal land in their districts. Also of note, the 2015 NDAA again stops the administration from engaging in another round of military base closures.