Sen. Kelly Secures Key Arizona Priorities in Armed Services Markup of Annual Defense Bill
Senate bill funds more F-35s and Compass Call aircraft flown at Arizona military bases
Increases U.S. competitiveness through new technology, innovation
Names DOD Irregular Warfare Center in honor of late Senator John McCain
Today, Arizona Senator and 25-year Navy combat veteran Mark Kelly announced that he secured major Arizona priorities during the Senate Armed Services Committee markup of the upcoming fiscal year’s defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill, which passed the committee with strong bipartisan support, also included a Kelly-supported $45 billion increase above President Biden’s original budget request. The defense bill delivers more Compass Call electronic attack and F-35 aircraft, planes flown at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Luke Air Force Base, and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, upgrades infrastructure at Arizona bases, and makes critical investments to improve military readiness, competitiveness, and more.
Kelly chairs the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, where he worked on key provisions necessary to ensure America’s long-term strategic competitive advantage over China and Russia. Through his leadership on the subcommittee, Kelly secured provisions that will advance quantum computing, microelectronics, and other key technology development; provide continued assistance to Ukraine; develop a multiyear plan for bolstering Taiwan’s defensive capabilities; expand Department of Defense (DOD) research funding; and build the pipeline of technical talent at universities. The bill will also further border security efforts by strengthening security cooperation across the Western Hemisphere to root out transnational organized crime and drug trafficking and requiring DOD to provide regular reports on the southwest border support mission.
“As a combat veteran, I know how important it is to make sure those serving in our military have the resources they need to do their jobs and strengthen our national security – whether it’s a more advanced fighter jet or ensuring childcare is available on base. That’s why I worked with Republicans and Democrats on the Armed Services Committee to build on Arizona’s already critical role in our national security by investing in our people, military assets, and research institutions. This will help us continue to out-innovate, out-compete, and out-perform our adversaries,” said Senator Kelly.
See below for a breakdown of specific provisions Kelly secured for Arizona:
Arizona’s Military Installations & Defense Industry
- Compass Call and Future Planning at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base: Senator Kelly delivered results to help secure the long-term future of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. This year’s budget failed to fund the Compass Call transition to upgrade electronic warfare capabilities in the Air Force, but thanks to Kelly’s advocacy, full funding for the modernized Compass Call aircraft was included in the committee bill. This program will be critical to maintaining our edge over China and will be an enduring mission, based at Davis-Monthan. Kelly also successfully included language that prioritizes bases like Davis-Monthan as the Air Force determines basing for future flying missions.
- F-35 Procurement: After the military requested fewer F-35s than were previously planned, Kelly secured an increase to procure more F-35 combat aircraft. The F-35 is flown at Luke Air Force Base and MCAS Yuma. Kelly has consistently supported efforts keeping procurement on track as Luke prepares to receive additional squadrons of F-35s.
- Military Construction Projects:
Kelly secured nearly $50 million for Arizona projects:
- $10 million for the land acquisition necessary to build a new entry gate at Morris Air National Guard Base, which will improve security and traffic for the local community. Kelly also secured an additional $12 million that was not originally budgeted, to fund construction of a new entry complex for the base.
- $8 million to construct the new 610th Command and Control Squadron (CACS) facility at Davis-Monthan that will sustain 24/7 cyber-support for US Strategic Command.
- $7.5 million to expand the current Combat Rescue Helicopter Simulator facility at Davis-Monthan to support the high operational tempo of the 55th Rescue Squadron.
- $6.5 million to complete the Ready Building at Yuma Proving Ground that will support the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Military Free Fall School.
- $4.75 million to begin planning and design work for an expansion and acceleration of the Luke Air Force Base Child Development Center to provide on-base childcare, an urgent need for Luke families.
- Kelly added language encouraging the Army to work with the State of Arizona to complete the widening of U.S. Highway 95 and assist in identifying funding to support the project, which will help alleviate dangerous traffic and improve access to Yuma Proving Ground.
- In support of plans to replace a water treatment plant at MCAS Yuma, Kelly also secured language in the bill urging the Marine Corps to prioritize funding for projects impacting water quality in next year’s budget.
- Increased Readiness Protection Funding: Kelly successfully advocated for a $5.3 million increase in Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program funding that helps address land-use conflicts near installations and improve military readiness. Kelly added language directing DOD to consider projects that protect groundwater supplies at test ranges and installations supporting military modernization efforts. This program supports ongoing work in places like Fort Huachuca and Naval Observatory Flagstaff, both of which were awarded funding for REPI initiatives just last week.
- Addressing PFAS in Drought-Stricken Areas: Kelly successfully added language underscoring the unique challenges of PFAS in drought-stricken regions and requiring DOD to update Congress on the status of related PFAS remedial investigations in communities experiencing the effects of drought.
- Continued Support for Arizona’s Defense Industry: Kelly supported provisions to bolster Arizona’s role in our national defense and included funding to continue the development and manufacturing of Arizona-made weapon systems and technologies, including the next generation of short-range air defense systems like Stinger missiles Ukraine has used to defend against Russian incursions.
Maintaining the United States’ Competitive Edge
Emerging Threats and Capabilities
Through his role as Chair of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Kelly secured major priorities like:
- Strengthening security cooperation in tackling transnational organized crime and counter drug/counternarcotics efforts in the Western Hemisphere and requiring quarterly briefings on the DOD southwest border support mission and the security situation along the border;
- Advancing AI, quantum, microelectronics, and other key technology efforts;
- Providing multi-year authority to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) and fund the European Deterrence Initiative to counter Russia;
- Continued support for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, and strengthening security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, including with India and Taiwan; and
- Increasing funding for the Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research Awards (DEPSCoR), a program that awards research funding to universities that helps establish partnerships and talent pipelines with defense laboratories.
Protecting Critical Mineral Supply Chains
In January, Kelly introduced the Restoring Essential Energy and Security Holdings Onshore for Rare Earths (REEShore) Act with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR). Kelly and Cotton secured a bipartisan agreement to include REEShore Act provisions in the bill, including:
- Providing $1 billion to the National Defense Stockpile to acquire rare earth elements and other critical minerals, to protect the U.S. supply chains from disruptions from foreign adversaries.
- Expanding DOD authority to acquire critical minerals without prior authorization.
- Requiring Department of Defense contractors to make country-of-origin disclosures for all rare-earth magnets used in systems for DOD;
- Expanding prohibitions on the acquisition of materials containing critical minerals produced or refined by Chinese military companies;
- Requiring the Government Accountability Office to assess DOD’s efforts to reduce dependence on critical minerals produced or refined in hostile countries, like China.
Creation of an Irregular Warfare Center
Kelly secured language requiring the Department of Defense to provide details on how it intends to structure and operate a Center for Security Studies in Irregular Warfare. The Center would serve as a central hub for developing knowledge and understanding of irregular warfare through research, education, and external engagement across government, civil society, and foreign partners. Following Kelly’s advocacy, the bill provides new authorities to hire personnel and authorizes a funding increase in preparation for the Center’s establishment. Kelly also led a unanimously agreed to amendment expressing that the center should be named in honor of the late Arizona Senator John McCain.
Last year, Kelly advanced major research and development provisions that would require DOD to establish a network to support microchip research, testing, and workforce development in coordination with industry and universities, including with institutions like Arizona State University, which is within 30 miles of several major electronic manufacturing plants.
In this year’s defense bill, Kelly secured language requiring the Secretary of Defense to set up a government-industry working group on microelectronics, advance efforts on next-generation microelectronics, and secured another $170 million for the National Network for Microelectronics Research and Development.
This investment builds on the $52 billion Kelly-led plan to create high-paying jobs and strengthen national security by increasing the manufacturing and development of microchips in Arizona and America that passed the Senate last year.
Investing in Our People
In this year’s bill, Kelly successfully required the Department of Defense to:
- Provide a 4.6% pay raise for our servicemembers;
- Establish more robust healthcare options for military families;
- Expand the Department to expand its mental health and suicide prevention efforts;
- Extend an authority to provide temporary Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rate increases in high-cost areas;
- Support education initiatives, including STARBASE at Davis-Monthan; and
- Increase Impact Aid program funding, which benefits Arizona schools including the Fort Huachuca School District and Sierra Vista Public Schools.
Kelly also secured language to direct the Department of Defense to report on its progress in enacting the Brandon Act, Kelly’s legislation to address military suicide that was signed into law last year. Kelly has been working with DOD to push for timely implementation and transparency as this landmark legislation is implemented.
In addition to the funding Kelly secured to begin planning on upgrades for Luke Air Force Base’s Child Development Center, the bill also includes a requirement for DOD to examine and report on opportunities to improve staff recruiting and retention at childcare sites.