December 08, 2022

Congressman Castro Votes to Pass NDAA with Major Progress for San Antonio Servicemembers and Families

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) voted to pass the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (FY2023 NDAA) with major wins for San Antonio, including limits to surprise medical bills at Brooke Army Medical Center, a 4.6% pay raise for servicemembers and the DOD civilian workforce, improvements to mental and dental health care for military families, and stronger access to justice for victims of military sexual assault.

To view a full fact sheet on the FY2023 NDAA, click here.

“Today, I supported passage of a bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that makes important progress for San Antonio’s military families and all residents of Military City USA,” said Congressman Castro. “I’m particularly pleased that the final language of the FY2023 NDAA includes legislation I wrote to limit the outrageous medical bills that San Antonians often face after emergency trauma care at Brooke Army Medical Center. While I remain concerned about the overall size of our defense budget, there is much to support in this year’s NDAA.”

Limiting Surprise Medical Bills at Brooke Army Medical Center

The FY2023 NDAA includes a provision authored by Congressman Castro that requires the Director of the Defense Health Agency to implement a modified payment plan based on a sliding-scale discount program for civilians who are underinsured or at risk for financial harm who receive treatment at Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) including Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio.

This provision follows an amendment that Congressman Castro secured in the FY2021 NDAA to provide MTFs with the flexibility to waive medical bills for civilians. BAMC is one of two Level 1 Trauma Centers in San Antonio and must treat civilians to maintain its accreditation for graduate medical education. In recent years, civilians have faced high medical bills after receiving trauma care at BAMC, even though their care helps to prepare military medical professionals to meet the medical needs of American servicemembers.

Investing in America’s Workforce and Expediting National Security Research

The FY2023 NDAA also includes provisions authored or co-authored by Congressman Castro in his capacity as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact and as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that would:

  • Improve student internship opportunities at the State Department by providing the Department with permanent authority to pay its interns and requiring it to transition its internship program to be paid in the coming years. The legislation also describes other parameters of the student internship program, including considerations for diversity and requirements for housing and travel costs to be covered for certain interns serving in D.C. or abroad.
  • Support the employment of U.S. citizens by international organizations by providing additional authorities and funding avenues to place qualified Americans at UN agencies, including through the Junior Professional Officer program.
  • Restore U.S. leadership in international organizations by authorizing the State Department to provide housing allowances to nine additional members of the Foreign Service who are serving in New York City at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Under current law, the State Department is only able to provide a housing allowance to 32 members of the Foreign Service who are serving at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, a restriction that has prevented the United States from properly staffing the mission.
  • Expand training and professional development opportunities for the civil and foreign service at the State Department by providing authorities to strengthen the Foreign Service Institute, including through additional training offerings, new fellowship programs for Foreign and Civil Service, and other provisions to improve the training of U.S. diplomats.
  • Provide pay equity for government employees working abroad by requiring members of the Civil Service under a Department Employee Teleworking Overseas (DETO) agreement (most often provided to military/foreign service spouses or dependents) to be paid either at what they would have been paid in the United States or what a member of the Foreign Service at an equivalent level is paid.
  • Expedite the declassification of CIA historical records by requiring the CIA Historical Review Panel to report directly to the Director of the CIA and requiring that the Inspector General of the CIA submit a report to Congress that outlines the CIA’s declassification efforts.
  • Improve diversity within the Intelligence Community by requiring the Director of National Intelligence to submit a report to Congress that documents barriers or obstacles to promotion for women and minorities, proposals to overcome those barriers, and summarizes existing efforts to strengthen the promotion pipeline for underrepresented populations in the Intelligence Community.
  • Expand open-source translations of strategically important materials by requiring the Director of National Intelligence to submit a report to Congress on how the Intelligence Community can translate foreign language open-source materials and publish them for the use of policymakers, academics, journalists, and others.