Rep. Darren Soto Passes Five National Defense Amendments
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Darren Soto (FL-09) passed five amendments to the House National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, H.R. 2810. All five of Soto’s amendments were adopted by voice vote before being passed by a bi-partisan vote of 344 to 81. Soto, a freshman Democrat, was successful in making positive changes to the bill that aim to protect Americans, employ veterans, and save tax payers money.
Last Friday, Rep. Soto passed an amendment requiring the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Energy, and the Secretary of State to jointly submit to Congress a report on space-based nuclear detection. With North Korea building a nuclear weapons program, Soto wants to ensure that policymakers have an accurate, real-time picture of any event that could change the course of history.
Soto also passed an amendment directing the Secretary of Defense to monitor space weather and provide alerts for space weather phenomena that may affect weapons systems, military operations, or the defense of the United States. This amendment codified an Obama executive order issued in October of last year aiming to prepare our nation for space weather events.
Congressman Soto has received requests from military veterans and their families regarding issuing and replacing military decorations that were either lost or never issued. Rep. Soto passed an amendment which expedites the replacement of military decorations for veterans of World War II and the Korean War.
The VA has had difficulty attracting medical professionals. To address that problem, Rep. Soto sponsored and successfully passed an amendment that encourages the transition of military medical professionals into employment with the Veterans Health Administration upon discharge or separation from the Armed Forces. This amendment aims to make the transition from military physician to VA physician easier. Another benefit of this amendment will be having medical professionals in the VA with a military background, as they have experience dealing with service members and their specific needs.
Last year, Congress passed legislation that requires a reorganization within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. There is a growing concern that a senior level position for development test and evaluation will not be retained in the new structure, which could mean costly modifications and overruns for the deployment of weapons systems. Rep. Soto’s amendment would create a new position that would help prevent these costly overruns. Since the Naval Air Warfare Center located in Orlando hosts the Training Systems Division of the Navy, this amendment would directly affect Central Florida.