April 30, 2015


Washington, D.C. – Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), a member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), today issued the following statement after his vote in favor of passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 out of HASC:

“Earlier today, I voted to pass out of committee the FY2016 NDAA, a bill that, while not perfect, strengthens our defenses, reforms flawed programs, and supports our military workforce. I worked closely with the Armed Services Committee to ensure priorities of San Antonians, the backbone of Military City USA, are reflected in this legislation.   

“One such measure provides the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) with $13 million to support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for our nation’s young people. Like so many other sectors in America, the military has an urgent and growing need for talented workers with skills in these critical fields. With nearly 13,000 scientists and engineers expected to retire in the next decade, ensuring the next generation is trained to fill these positions is of upmost importance, particularly when it comes to maintaining our military preeminence. Robust funding for the NDEP will help equip American students with the STEM knowledge essential for America’s continued defense and economic strength. 

“Also intended to address the impending shortage of STEM workers, a provision within the NDAA requires the highest levels of military leadership to develop strategies to support and engage with STEM programs at higher education institutions serving minority students, such as historically black colleges and universities. This measure not only aids the effort to supply the military with the skilled workers it needs, but it also provides additional opportunities for minorities, a population traditionally underrepresented in STEM professions, to pursue education and careers in these growing fields. 

“I support other provisions in the legislation as well. The NDAA prohibits the Department of Defense from conducting an additional round of Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC – an issue that’s top of mind for San Antonians. The bill requires the government to examine the impact DACA has on military readiness and the role DREAMers play in our armed forces. And the legislation also includes reforms to protect service members from predatory lenders and their unfair practices that threaten our soldiers’ financial stability.  

“Meanwhile, there are some measures that I am disappointed did not make it into the final NDAA package. I fought to take military sexual assault prosecutions out of the chain of command to ensure all victims are comfortable coming forward and go through an unbiased, professional process. I also pushed for reforms that would bring greater visibility and accountability to the controversial 1033 Program that provides excess military equipment to law enforcement agencies. Neither of these provisions received enough backing in committee for adoption. 

“On the whole though, this authorization legislation is sound and important for the security of America, for stability around the world, and for the city of San Antonio. Our nation’s safety and the needs of San Antonio’s military personnel and their families will continue to guide my work on the Armed Services Committee.”

The NDAA would authorize $604.2 billion for Department of Defense operations in FY2016.