Protect Our Defenders News Blog


NDAA Passes with 61 Speier Provisions, Including Breakthroughs in Transgender Service, Legal Rights, Sexual Assault, Women’s Health, Wasteful Spending

Office of Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA)

July 12, 2019

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) and two-hundred and nineteen of her Democratic colleagues, passed the most progressive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the bill’s nearly 60-year history. The House version of the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA includes 61 provisions offered or substantially contributed to by Rep. Speier, including landmark legislation on transgender service, the Feres Doctrine, sexual assault prosecutions, contraception access, and Foreign Military Sales waivers.

“This NDAA contains historic provisions that will enshrine the values of equality, opportunity, and accountability into law,” said Rep. Speier, Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee. “Military members and their families will benefit from policies that give all people, regardless of gender identity, the chance to meet standards and serve, give malpractice victims their day in court, and improve sexual assault prevention and response. This bill also makes important headway in shortening child care backlogs, promoting spousal employment, expanding access to contraception, and addressing environmental hazards. And all Americans will benefit from the elimination of waste, fraud, and abuse in Defense Department spending. By passing this bipartisan bill, Congress has shown that we can make our country stronger and safer by incorporating progressive values into our laws and policies.”

Rep. Speier’s key contributions to the NDAA include:

Transgender Service: An amendment that enshrines open transgender service by prohibiting Department of Defense (DOD) recruitment and retention policies that prevent otherwise qualified individuals from serving based on their race, religion, national origin, or sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
Feres Doctrine: The SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019, which corrects over 50 years of injustice by giving active duty servicemembers the right to sue the Department of Defense for medical malpractice occurring at military facilities. The provision creates an exemption to the Feres Doctrine, which denies servicemembers the same legal rights as their spouses and families, civilian federal workers, and even prisoners.
Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault: A pilot program that creates an Office of the Chief Prosecutor charged with making binding prosecution recommendations to the Military Service Academy superintendents for special victims’ cases, which culminates years of work to lessen the role of commanders in the military justice system. This will help address the sexual assault crisis at the academies by giving cadets and midshipmen access to a fairer system and allow the DOD and Congress to learn from the results. Additional provisions encourage survivors to report by creating a global DOD policy forgiving minor collateral misconduct such as underage drinking, boosting the successful Special Victims Counsel Program, and creating an appeals board to help veterans with cases before the military records review board pursue justice.
Access to Contraception: The Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act, which ensures TRICARE’s contraception coverage policies are in line with other employer-based insurance plans by eliminating copays, expands access to family planning education, and ensures availability of emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault.
Gender Integration of Marine Basic: A requirement that the Marines gender-integrate their bootcamps to be in line with all other trainings across the military. The Marine Corps has fewer women than the other services and has related cultural issues which could be alleviated by signaling that all Marines are equals from day one of training.
Limiting Foreign Military Sales Concessions to Rich Gulf Nations: The REPAY Act, which restricts DOD’s ability to offer wealthy Gulf nations unnecessary discounts on arms purchases.
Restricting Price Gouging of Taxpayers: Regulations empowering contracting officials to counter the price-gauging tactics used by companies such as TransDigm.
Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act: The Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes the USPS breast cancer research stamp slated to expire December 2019 for eight years. More than one billion stamps have been sold in the United States raising over $89 million for breast cancer research.

The House version of the NDAA will now be conferenced with the Senate’s draft before the chambers vote on final legislation to send to the President’s desk for signing into law later this year.