WASHINGTON, DC — The House Tuesday passed key provisions authored by U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) — to help National Guard members quarantine safely from COVID-19, to address foreign terrorist organizations’ use of online social media platforms, and to to publicize lead water testing results at K-12 schools on military bases — as part of the annual national defense investment bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference agreement for Fiscal Year 2021.
“Today, the House passed a strong, bipartisan defense bill to help equip and prepare our service members to carry out their mission and defend our country. This bipartisan bill included three amendments I introduced to support our National Guard and Reserves as they work to get us through this pandemic, to fight global terror, especially on social media platforms, and to stand up for our brave military families and their kids by ensuring they have clean, lead-free water to drink in school,” Gottheimer said. “I’ll continue working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support our active duty military, combat terrorism and violent extremism, strengthen America’s national security, and help protect our communities from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Gottheimer’s amendments passed by the House as part of the Conference Report for the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 include:
- Combating foreign terrorist organizations spreading extremist propaganda on social media: The conference agreement directs the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to report to Congress on the use of social media by foreign terrorist organizations as designated by the Department of State, including an assessment of the threat posed to U.S. national security by online radicalization.
- Providing quarantine lodging for the National Guard and Reserve: Section 517 of the conference agreement would authorize the Secretary of Defense to provide at least 14 days of housing for members of the Reserve Components ordered to active service in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.
- Protecting children from dangerous lead water: The conference agreement urges the Department of Defense to ensure impacted military families are fully informed regarding testing for lead or copper at Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) facilities on military bases. The report also urges the Department to publicize the results of drinking water testing at facilities where it is the purveyor of drinking water, including DoDEA schools and child development centers.
The bill also contains bipartisan language backed by Gottheimer to help care for Vietnam Veterans exposed to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange. Previously, Gottheimer, along with Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida, wrote to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, urging him to ensure veterans exposed to Agent Orange and suffering from serious conditions such as bladder cancer, hyperthyroidism, and Parkinson’s disease receive the care and benefits that they deserve.