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Saturday, March 6th, 2021

House advances measure to reduce US service members’ reliance on Russian energy

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The U.S. House voted this week to advance a legislative provision seeking to reduce reliance on Russian energy for troops serving in Europe, while also authorizing funding for military members and their families.

The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 was advanced by a vote of 359 to 54, and would grant preference to domestically-sourced fuels like coal and natural gas, in addition to supplying $639.1 billion for defense operations at large. No military bases would be closed under the new bill, but improved readiness would become a focus, as would increasing military recruitment numbers, pay raises and extension of special pay, and bonuses for high-demand areas.

“Time and again, we have seen Vladimir Putin use Russian energy to assert his political will over the rest of the world,” U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) said. “Our Armed Forces should not be forced to rely on Russia for their energy and heating needs. This bill will protect the brave men and women who defend our freedom overseas from the political whims of foreign officials and provide them with certainty and security, while also opening up new opportunities for American energy sources like Pennsylvania’s own anthracite coal.”

Additional measures provided for under the bill are a blanket no closure provision slapped on all military medical treatment facilities until they can be transitioned to the Defense Health Agency, and improved processes for reporting crimes to the FBI. Sexual assault prevention efforts will be retooled and improvements made to programs surrounding separation of service members and review of wounded warrior care and mental health services.