OPINION

Manchin votes to override Trump's veto of defense bill

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Sen. Joe Manchin

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted Friday to override President Trump’s veto of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Senate voted 81-13 to override President Trump’s veto of the FY21 NDAA. Senator Manchin condemned President Trump’s reckless decision to veto the vital legislation last month.

“I am relieved the Senate voted overwhelmingly today to override President Trump’s reckless and selfish veto of the NDAA,” he said.

“For over six decades, the NDAA has passed with overwhelming bipartisan support – proving that even in divisive times Congress can still come together to support our brave servicemembers and their families while also ensuring America and our allies are secure and protected.

“I want to thank my Democratic colleagues and most importantly my Republican colleagues for choosing country over party in overriding President Trump’s veto of this important legislation. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will continue to fight for our servicemembers and West Virginia priorities to ensure our nation is protected from threats at home and abroad.”

Below is a list of priorities included in the FY21 NDAA:

    •    Supplying Our Troops with Materials Made in America- Securing our national defense means reducing our dependence on foreign nations for critically important materials, such as:

    ◦    Synthetic Graphite- Senator Manchin’s provision ensures that DoD studies the military applications of domestic supplies of synthetic graphite. This supports the important work of companies like Amsted Industries in West Virginia that are proven industry leaders in the development of synthetic graphite.

    ◦    Rare Earth Elements (REE) from Coal Sludge- This provision builds on Senator Manchin’s ongoing efforts to increase our domestic production of REEs. It is consistent with the ongoing, innovative research at West Virginia University (WVU) to extract REEs from coal and coal byproducts and supports the possible applications of this research in fulfilling DoD’s warfighting needs.

    ◦    Coal Carbon Fibers- Senator Manchin’s provision ensures that coal based carbon fibers are studied by the DoD to provide greater capability within our defense industrial base to supply critical materials domestically. This could bring jobs and investment to West Virginia which is uniquely positioned to support the development of these materials.

    •    Supporting our National Guard Troops through COVID-19 Pandemic- Provisions from Senator Manchin’s Support our National Guard Act (S.3713) were incorporated into the NDAA to provide National Guard personnel serving in support of the whole government response to the Coronavirus healthcare coverage.

    •    Helping Our Local Broadcasters and Rural Papers- Senator Manchin secured language encouraging the Department of recruiting commands to give all due consideration towards the use of local broadcasting and traditional media sources such as, rural newspapers. DoD advertising, including major sporting events and typical recruiting advertisements have been cut back due to COVID-19. This provision is consistent with Senator Manchin’s ongoing efforts to help West Virginia broadcasters and newspapers make up for lost advertising revenue at a time when demand for their services has never been higher.

    •    Bringing Jobs to West Virginia- Senator Manchin’s provision provides place of performance contract flexibility that enables the Department of the Navy to expand its employee base beyond the immediate Capital Region to areas like Rocket Center, WV which will generate economic growth and save taxpayer dollars. This builds on Senator Manchin’s related efforts in last year’s NDAA to bring more jobs to West Virginia.

    •    Special Operations Forces (SOF) Training on restored Surface Mine Sites- Encourages DoD to look at former surface mine sites, like those in West Virginia, for SOF training opportunities because of their austere, remote, and rough terrain.

    •    National Guard Cyber Pilot- This language authorizes the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force to conduct pilot programs to develop and use cyber capabilities within the National Guard.

    •    Expeditionary Solid Waste Disposal System- $15.9 million increase for the Army to procure mobile, deployable incinerators to get rid of equipment that is contaminated. This will serve as an alternative to the military having to use burn pits, which cause health complications to service members.

    •    Expansion of the Diseases Covered under Agent Orange Exposure- Legislation that as a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Senator Manchin fought for was adopted to add Parkinsonism, Bladder Cancer, and Hypothyroidism to the list of diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange for veterans with a presumption of service connection.

    •    Addressing the Exposure of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) in our Communities- The NDAA provides a $5 million increase in authorized funds for the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to continue their five-year nationwide study to identify the potential harm elevated levels of PFAS chemicals pose when they contaminate our drinking water sources.

    •    Ensuring the Affordability of Insulin- More than 1 in 10 West Virginian adult has diabetes, making West Virginia ranked second highest in the nation. This provision would requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a study and issue a report on the affordability of insulin. West Virginians should never be forced to choose between putting food on the table and going to the doctor or buying life-saving medicines.