Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) released the following statement after the House of Representatives adopted his amendments to H.R.5515, the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 351-66:
“I was pleased to offer a number of amendments to the FY19 NDAA that were adopted with bipartisan support. The NDAA is sweeping legislation, and this year’s bill was overwhelmingly bipartisan. My amendments will be highly beneficial for veterans and all of South Florida,” said Hastings.
Hastings Amendment #157 authorizes the Secretary of Defense to establish a joint Military Transition Outreach Pilot Program to contact servicemembers 30, 60, and 90 days after separation or retirement from active duty.
“The need for this program is simple: too many veterans leave the military unaware of their earned benefits or the services available for assisting them and their families as they transition to civilian life. During this critical time of transition, too many people fall through the cracks, and many more have concerns or questions that they cannot easily get answered. The pilot program created by this amendment will help to close the communication gaps. We should ensure that each of our veterans has the knowledge and resources they need to fully utilize their benefits.” said Hastings.
Hastings Amendment #27 directs the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on military installations that have been made available for disaster recovery over the past 10 fiscal years, as well as installations assessed to be available for fast response to disasters in the future.
“We have a significant number of active installations under DOD deemed to be in excess – more than 20 percent,” said Hastings. “When responding to disasters, DOD and FEMA often coordinate their efforts, and excess space on military installations facilitates recovery efforts, serving as staging areas and shelter. We know there are going to be more disasters, and this information will help us be better prepared for the future.”
Hastings co-sponsored two additional amendments also adopted by the House of Representatives. The first, offered by a group of 21 Representatives, helps students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) access the Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship Program. The second, offered by Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC) and Hastings, promotes increased participation in Federal procurement by HBCUs and minority serving institutions.
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.