Senate Advances Congressional Hispanic Caucus Priorities in Defense Bill

Dec 15, 2021
Press Release

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

 

Contact: Alma.Acosta@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022. The bill is now headed to President Biden’s desk. Congressional Hispanic Caucus Members released the following statements celebrating historic reforms included in NDAA:  

“The Senate passage of the NDAA marks an important step forward in advancing CHC priorities to strengthen America’s national security and support our military personnel across the country,” said Chair Dr. Raul Ruiz. “This bipartisan bill, now headed to the President’s desk, contains important CHC priorities including historic reforms to address sexual harassment and assault in the military, provisions to increase diversity and Hispanic representation in the armed services, improvements to better support small businesses, and investments to address the climate crisis. I commend the strong work of our House Armed Services Committee Members Reps. Ruben Gallego, Salud Carbajal, Filemon Vela, and Veronica Escobar, and I thank Reps. Veronica Escobar and Rep. Sylvia Garcia for their unwavering commitment to justice for Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén. The CHC looks forward to building upon these reforms in the years to come.”

“This year’s NDAA is a robust, bipartisan package that contains a number of key provisions I proudly support,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations. “As a Latino Iraq War veteran, I am incredibly proud that this year’s NDAA includes concrete steps towards increasing the diversity of our military, especially in the officer ranks, and strengthening relationships with our allies and partners. I am also encouraged by the inclusion of language from Rep. Sylvia Garcia’s ‘I Am Vanessa Guillen Act’, a transformational provision that finally takes away authority from the chain of command to prosecute sexual assault cases and puts it in the hands of independent prosecutors. I will be closely following the Department of Defense’s implementation of these policies which are critical to the readiness and cohesion of our nation’s military.”

“The FY22 NDAA makes bold investments in what makes our nation strong – from our brave men and women in uniform to our defense technologies and alliances.” said Rep. Escobar, Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. “As the representative for Fort Bliss in Congress, I was proud to have crafted and voted for this bipartisan legislative milestone that advances justice for the family of Specialist Vanessa Guillén and survivors of sexual assault, promotes the recruitment and retention of Latino service members, secures a well-deserved pay raise for our troops, addresses the threat of climate change, protects the National Guard from being exploited for political gain, and more.”

“The National Defense Authorization Act of 2022 provides the most significant reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice in fifty years. This bill will finally answer the call of countless survivors of sexual assault and harassment. We got in this fight after the tragic murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, and we have pushed and pushed and pushed and while all provisions were not included in the Senate's agreed version, it is a major step in getting justice for victims and protecting our soldiers. None of this progress would have been possible without the bold witness of the Guillen family,” said Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29).

This year’s NDAA includes several provisions related to CHC’s priorities including but not limited to:

  • The most significant reforms to the Historic Uniform Code of Military Justice since 1950—ensuring that what happened to Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén cannot happen to others
  • Updates to diversity training requirements and mandated research to identify the current barriers keeping Hispanics back from achieving leadership positions in our military’s ranks
  • Changes to better assist noncitizen servicemembers who are seeking to naturalize
  • Updates to the Department of Defense’s energy efficiency technology to help in the fight against climate change
  • Modifications to increase and improve the Department’s work with small businesses

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.