U.S. Senate Passes Kelly Priorities in Annual Defense Bill
Kelly successfully protected A-10s at Davis-Monthan, authorized key infrastructure at Luke Air Force Base and other installations, and included his “Brandon Act” to address military suicides
Today, after a year of work on the Senate Armed Services Committee and as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Senator Kelly voted to pass the annual defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes a number of Arizona defense priorities. Through his role, Kelly advocated for and secured a $25 billion increase in defense spending above President Biden’s original budget request to invest in a robust national defense.
Kelly successfully protected the A-10 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, authorized key infrastructure upgrades at Davis-Monthan and Luke Air Force Bases, Fort Huachuca and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, included his Brandon Act to reduce military suicides, and secured key investments in research and technology to outcompete adversaries like China.
See more details on the bill and Senator Kelly’s work here.
“As a Navy combat veteran, I know how important it is to not only invest in strengthening our national security but to support the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our country. This defense bill will bring needed upgrades to Arizona’s military bases while raising servicemember pay and addressing head on the issue of military suicides with our bill the Brandon Act. Critically, this also boosts the research, development, and testing of advanced technologies needed to keep our competitive edge over adversaries like China,” said Kelly, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.
“I’ve witnessed first-hand Senator Kelly’s work alongside Arizona’s defense community to advocate for our state’s defense priorities like investing in made-in-Arizona future technologies, delivering base improvements in Yuma, Phoenix, and Tucson, and ensuring our servicemembers have the resources needed to keep protecting our national security. This year’s defense bill will not only help keep our military the most advanced in the world, it will boost Arizona’s economy and strengthen the state’s role in our national security strategy overall,” said Ted Maxwell, Retired Maj. General, US Air Force, President & CEO, Southern Arizona Leadership Council.
“The West Valley Defense Alliance is incredibly thankful for Senator Kelly’s key role in the passage of the NDAA. In his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Kelly has proven himself as a leader for Arizona through his relentless advocacy for the state’s defense and military assets,” said Lynndy Smith, Chair of the West Valley Defense Alliance. “With his support, multiple wins were secured in the NDAA including preventing the retirement of A-10s at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and securing authorization for four military construction projects in the state. His input on the NDAA will have a lasting positive impact on Arizona’s military installations and defense industry. The WVDA deeply appreciates his unwavering commitment to ensuring our warfighters have the equipment and resources necessary to keep our nation safe.”
“The Yuma 50 and our military partners are grateful to see the work that has gone into this legislation. Protecting the future of these assets are clearly a priority for the Senator and we are very grateful. We hope to see this legislation cross the finish line,” said Julie Engel, Chair, Yuma 50.
“As we face evolving global threats, this NDAA recognizes Southern Arizona’s unique capabilities for our nation’s defense,” said Robert Medler, Chair of the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance. “I would like to thank Senator Kelly for his leadership as a member of the Armed Services Committee. As a Navy veteran he knows not only the mission needs throughout Southern Arizona, but the strategic investments of over $1.5 billion ensures that Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, MCAS Yuma, the Guard’s 162nd Wing, and Fort Huachuca remain the best locations to test, train, and operate for our military.”
Senator Kelly led the effort to keep the A-10 flying and prevent retirements until there is a suitable replacement. Kelly successfully included a prohibition on A-10 retirements in the Senate’s version of the defense bill, and then fought to keep it in the final compromise legislation that passed today.
“For decades, the A-10 Warthog has been an invaluable close air support asset to America’s troops on the ground. Keeping the full A-10 fleet flying for the next year is important to our national security as we work to ensure the Air Force has the capability to accomplish this mission in the years to come. With these investments secured, I will continue working alongside the Air Force and local leaders like the DM50 and my Arizona Defense Advisory Council to protect the long-term future of Davis-Monthan for our national security and community. I welcome proposals to bring new missions to Davis-Monthan and will continue working with the Air Force on the timeline and resources needed to guarantee the long-term role of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in our national security strategy,” Senator Kelly added.
The Brandon Act
In June, alongside Arizonans Teri and Patrick Caserta, Senator Kelly introduced the bipartisan Brandon Act, legislation named in honor of their son, Navy Petty Officer Third Class Brandon Caserta, who was lost to suicide while serving. The defense bill includes language based on the Brandon Act which increases suicide prevention mechanisms for the military. The Brandon Act is designed to protect service members who experience mental health emergencies by allowing them to immediately and confidentially obtain mental health care.
Creating a Microelectronics Network & Advancing the CHIPS Act
Senator Kelly advanced major research and development provisions totaling $250 million that would require the Department of Defense to establish a network to support microchip research, testing, and workforce development in coordination with industry and universities. This program, which was developed and supported by researchers at Arizona State University, will leverage existing resources at universities located near major microelectronic manufacturing plants to research and test next generation microelectronics technologies here in the United States.
Additionally, Kelly previously secured dedicated funding for this program in the $52 billion plan that Kelly led and passed through the Senate. Kelly’s plan would create high-paying jobs and strengthen national security by increasing the manufacturing and development of microchips in Arizona and America.
Arizona Base Infrastructure
Senator Kelly secured authorization for four military construction projects in Arizona — the South Wilmot Gate at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, two F-35 facility projects at Luke Air Force Base in Maricopa County, and a training project at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma.
The South Wilmot gate construction will help alleviate high congestion in the area, improving base security and traffic flow on major city roads.
Luke Air Force Base is home to the 56th Fighter Wing, the largest fighter wing in the world and the Air Force’s primary active-duty fighter pilot training wing. The facilities authorized in this bill will keep Luke on track to house additional F-35 squadrons in the coming years.
MCAS Yuma has projects authorized to construct a combat training tank complex.
Additionally, Kelly secured a $4 million increase for continued resilience work at Fort Huachuca in Cochise County, which is one of six Sentinel Landscape sites in the country and the Buffalo Soldier Electronic Test Range (BSETR), which leverages natural topographical and geologic features to safely test critical electronic warfare capabilities our nation needs to meet near-peer threats.
Kelly also successfully included a requirement that the Department of Defense, with input from the State Department, report on the feasibility of pursuing an international airspace agreement to support military training needs of installations near the southwest border.