Skip to Content

Press Releases

Congresswoman Escobar Votes to Send FY24 NDAA to President’s Desk

Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), a member of the bicameral Conference Committee, joined a bipartisan majority of her colleagues in the House of Representatives and Senate to pass H.R. 2670, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024. At a time of great global unrest, Congresswoman Escobar was key in crafting a bipartisan bill that delivers for El Paso, military families and men and women in uniform, and realistically reflects the need for a strong national defense. The bill will now be sent to the White House to be signed by the President. 

“This year’s National Defense Authorization Act is a bill that invests in our best asset – our men and women in uniform,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “While this bill is certainly far from perfect, it is reflective of the compromise required of both Democrats and Republicans to ensure we deliver for our servicemembers and safeguard our national security. Most importantly, the NDAA codifies the Biden Administration’s proposed 5.2 percent pay raise for service members and invests billions of dollars in other key quality-of-life issues including housing, child care, career opportunities, and the right of female servicemembers’ to travel for reproductive care. As this historic piece of legislation awaits the President's signature, I cannot emphasize enough that every vote throughout this year-long process was cast on behalf of El Pasoans, our servicemembers stationed at Fort Bliss, and their families.”

Below is an overview of some key FY24 NDAA provisions championed by Congresswoman Escobar:

Secured Nearly $100 Million Critical Investments for Fort Bliss 

The Fiscal Year 2024 NDAA includes historic investments for Fort Bliss, championed by Congresswoman Escobar. The Congresswoman has long fought for and successfully secured authorization of $74 million for the full construction of a rail yard at Fort Bliss to bolster rapid deployment capabilities, $7.2 million in planning and design funding for new transient training barracks at Fort Bliss, $10 million to ensure that El Paso continues to leverage its exceptional additive manufacturing capabilities to support a key Army future defense program, and $10 million in procurement funding for Abrams Predictive Maintenance to improve the readiness and sustainability of the Abrams platforms, a core element of our armored brigades. 

Invests in Servicemembers, the Civilian Workforce, and Military Families  

In addition to a historic 5.2% pay raise for our men and women in uniform, this year’s NDAA expands eligibility for the Basic Needs Allowance, makes significant investments in military family housing, child development centers, career opportunities, replacing failing unaccompanied housing, protects female servicemembers’ ability to travel for reproductive healthcare, and improves FMLA eligibility for federal employees.

Strengthen Ties between the Services and UTEP 

Congresswoman Escobar closely partnered with colleagues to win a $49.5 million increase in funding for Department of Defense Research and Development Programs that support Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) – to include Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions - to invest in research that supports our military services, STEM talent, and the future of our defense workforce. Additionally, the Congresswoman secured language to clarify to the Department of Defense that Hispanic Serving Institutions are a key block of colleges and universities to receive investment across its research programs. Finally, provisions were included to establish a consortium on the use of additive manufacturing for defense capability development, with a focus on Army aviation and missile capabilities, directly leveraging El Paso’s emerging leadership in the additive manufacturing industry. 

Give Peace of Mind to Families with MIA or AWOL-declared Personnel 

Congresswoman Escobar secured an independent study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the policies and procedures for handling and resourcing cases of personnel declared Missing-In-Action (MIA) or Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL), and how we may improve transparency and communication for families of these personnel.

Improve the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Program 

Building on her long work with the Military Spouse Entrepreneur Act, Congresswoman Escobar secured language to improve the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership Program (MSEP), by leveraging telework and remote work opportunities. MSEP connects military spouses with partner employers who are committed to recruit, support, and retain military spouses.  

Strengthen Supportive Community Infrastructure 

Congresswoman successfully included language to make the Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP) permanent. Through DCIP, communities like El Paso are able to address deficiencies in community infrastructure that supports a military installation to enhance military value, installation resilience, and military family quality of life. 

Ensure Service Members in the National Guard are Supported 

Congresswoman Escobar included a request for a report to require an assessment of current National Guard protocols and practices regarding reporting and adjudication of sexual assault and harassment claims, which are inconsistent and at times difficult to navigate, for members of the Guard who respond to both state and federal command structures.  The Congresswoman also authored language directing the Department to conduct a report on suicide prevention within the Guard to safeguard the well-being and mental health of soldiers, especially those on politically motivated missions in our State through missions like Operation Lone Star (OLS). 

Support the Wellbeing of Servicemembers and their Families

Congresswoman Escobar successfully required a report on the implementation of the Stayskal Act, a bill that enables servicemembers to file claims against their service for medical malpractice or negligence. Additionally, the Congresswoman secured a provision to require DoD to cover the costs of lodging for 30 days for servicemembers or dependents who are victims of domestic abuse in need of temporary housing.  

Empower Commanders in the Army through the Army Vantage Program 

Congresswoman Escobar fought to preserve continuity of the Army Vantage Program, which is a key readiness program Army Secretary Wormuth and other Army Senior Leaders have endorsed. This program empowers all commanders to assess the health, manning, training, and operational readiness requirements of their units, as well as to enable them to more proactively and efficiently address unmet needs for servicemembers.  

Invest in Our Servicemembers’ Mental Health Treatments 

Congresswoman Escobar required the Comptroller General to provide a study on the advisability and feasibility of implementing comprehensive baseline mental health exams to all separating and retiring service members via a thorough exam that more closely mirrors the VA’s mental health exams. These enhanced surveys are intended to further tailor mental health treatment to the needs of service members and help set up a pathway for other wraparound services.

Prioritize the Eradication of Sexual Assault and Harassment 

Congresswoman Escobar secured a briefing on the number of substantiated investigations into sexual harassment and discrimination conducted over last 3 years, the average time each type of investigation takes, and reasons for delays, and recommendations to shorten these timelines for or servicemembers.  Additionally, she insituted a study to assess the resources and training provided to JROTC cadets, collect data about cadet victimization due to sexual harassment and assault, improvements to training and resources, and successfully required the DoD to collect data across the uniformed and civilian workforce to monitor harassment, discrimination, sexual assault, and other pervasive issues to better track these problems and inform future solutions.

Evaluate Adoption Support Services in the Department of Defense (DoD) 

Congresswoman Escobar included an assessment on DoD adoption support services for military families to evaluate the current state of these services, barriers to these services as experienced by military families, current successful practices, and recommendations on how to improve access and quality of services for military families.

# # #

Stay Connected