House Advances Annual Defense Authorization Bill with Axne Amendments to Protect RC-26 Aircraft Deployment, Expand Civilian Job Opportunities for Iowa National Guard and Reserve Members
Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) joined a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives to advance the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense policy bill that includes two Axne-sponsored amendments to block divestment from Iowa’s RC-26 program and expand skills and job training for the Iowa Air National Guard, Iowa National Guard, and other Reserve members.
“Today, we have secured important victories for Iowa, our communities, and the men and women in uniform who help keep it safe every single day,” said Rep. Axne. “Not only have we ensured that the RC-26 will stay in Iowa to help protect our communities from all manner of threats, and we’ve also moved commonsense legislation to help members of the Air National Guard, Iowa Air and Army National Guard and Reserve servicemembers get the skills and support they need when transitioning back to civilian life.”
Earlier this week, the House voted to include the Transition for Success Act as an amendment this year’s NDAA. The bipartisan legislation to expand transitional skills training and employment assistance for members of the National Guard and reserves was introduced last week, and is expected to expand the Defense Department’s SkillBridge Program by 30%.
Rep. Axne also co-led an amendment to the NDAA with former RC-26 pilot Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) and Iowa Reps. Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) to protect investments in the RC-26 aircraft program, a critical domestic security and disaster aid tool for Iowa and other Midwest states.
“The RC-26 is a critical part of the Iowa Air National Guard’s mission to protect our state – including by helping coordinate national disaster response and combatting trafficking within our borders,” said Rep. Axne. “I’m pleased that we were able to secure language in this package to prevent any attempt divest or divert funding from this critical program.”
The bill also supports the investments in supporting servicemembers, national defense, and meeting the challenges of ongoing global health crises, including: the creation of a $1 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund, over $50 million in funding for investments in biotechnology and pandemic preparedness, and authorization for a 3% pay raise for men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces.
Background on the Transition for Success Act:
The Transition for Success Act was introduced by Rep. Axne and her colleagues William Timmons (SC-04), Mike Bost (IL-12), Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Greg Murphy (NC-03), and Max Rose (NY-11). The legislation opens eligibility for the U.S. Department of Defense’s SkillBridge program to include National Guard and Reserve servicemembers who are within 180 days of transition into civilian life.
SkillBridge connects departing servicemembers to in-demand skills training and prospective employers who are ready to hire. The Department of Defense projects that the legislation would lead to a 30% increase in participation in the SkillBridge program.
The Transition for Success Act has the endorsement of key employers that partner with the SkillBridge program, including Microsoft, Amazon, the National Association of Homebuilders, and the Utility Workers Union of America.
The bill is also backed by the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), Reserve Officers Assocation (ROA), Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), Military Veterans Advocacy (MVA), Code Platoon, Veterans for Common Sense, and Troops into Transportation.