Wicker: Congressional defense bill includes investments in Vicksburg-based projects

Published 1:34 pm Thursday, December 14, 2023

UPDATE: The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed into law.

More than $3 million in funding specifically for Vicksburg-based work is included in the annual congressional defense bill awaiting the President’s signature, according to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

The Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (FY 24 NDAA), which passed 310-118 in the House and 87-13 in the Senate, will now head to the president’s desk to become law.

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Wicker, as the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, fought to secure a wide range of projects that support Mississippi’s role in our national defense and promote conservative values.

“It has been a great honor to oversee the NDAA as the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee and work to enact policies that help Mississippi and protect our military,” Wicker said.Enemies of freedom are growing more dangerous and capable by the day.

“Our bill should signal to China, Russia, and others that we will not accept a world where America does not have the best fighting force. While I would have preferred to send the President a substantially larger proposed investment in our industrial base, he now should approve the monumental investments Congress intends to make in our servicemembers’ warships, submarines, aircraft and technology.”

Two key components of the legislation will benefit Vicksburg:

  • $3 million in funding to support research on pavement repair materials for military missions, affecting the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg.
  • Language to accelerate Pentagon efforts to partner with industry on bioprocessing for rare earths and critical minerals, supporting existing work at ERDC in Vicksburg.

Wicker also highlighted several major conservative victories in the legislation, include elements of  the\s MERIT Act, which is designed to target the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) agenda at the Department of Defense, and the FINISH IT Act, which would force the Department of Defense to allow millions of dollars worth of unused border panels already owned by the U.S. government to be used to extend the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The legislation also contains several of Wicker’s top national defense priorities, such as:

  • Authorizing significant resources to ensure the United States military can prevail against adversaries in multiple theaters, including China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.
  • Enacting Wicker’s proposal to take on unaccountable Biden bureaucrats at the Pentagon by slashing pay for DEI personnel.
  • Taking care of our troops and help the DOD stay competitive with the private sector by providing for a 5.2 percent pay raise.
  • Supporting Wicker’s proposal to expand JROTC programming by requiring the operation of 3,400-4,000 units nationwide, reforming oversight authorities and revising instructor pay scales.
  • Prioritizing stability and consistent demand signals for the defense workforce by authorizing block buys and multiyear contracting authority as a tool to improve industrial base stability for a range of critical programs, including munitions.
  • Directing a review of the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) procedures following a significant failure in tracking and destroying the Chinese spy balloon that traversed the continental United States.
  • Helping secure the homeland in the strongest NDAA on the border ever, including Wicker’s FINISH IT Act.
  • Enabling the DoD to confront the cartels in cyberspace.
  • Requiring a Department of Defense strategy to counter fentanyl trafficking after another record year in drug trafficking at the southern border.
  • Unleashing American support for Israel through the provisioning of resources for aircraft and joint training with the Israeli military.
  • Standing up a Special Inspector General for Ukraine to identify any waste, fraud or abuse of U.S. assistance.