By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO,

Maryland’s 4th District United States Congressman Anthony Brown, in his role as House Armed Services Committee Vice-Chairman, led fellow Democrats in voting for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Department of Defense (DOD) has been authorized $733 billion in spending for national defense and overseas operations. The NDAA was passed by the full House of Representatives, but without any Republican support.

As Congress works to solidify the fiscal year 2020 budget, Congressman Anthony Brown (D- MD 4th District) is leading bills that support the state of Maryland, the military and HBCUs. (Courtesy Photo)

“The is the most strategic, responsible and progressive defense bill Congress has passed in a decade,” said Congressman Brown in a prepared statement. “It reverses President Trump’s soft stance on Russia, invests in our servicemembers and gives us the opportunity to push back on some of the administration’s most destructive Pentagon policies,”

The fiscal year 2020’s NDAA, calls for a 3.1 percent military pay increase for service members and reforms the private military housing system. It pushes back against President Trump’s threats of war in the Middle East and prohibits the President’s use of Defense funding for the controversial southern border wall next to Mexico. It is also supposed to strengthen the Defense Department’s diversity and inclusion moves.

“As the President continues to politicize the military in an unprecedented manner, it is critical the House continue to pass bills like these, packed with bipartisan provisions that are beneficial to the security of our nation, and common-sense reversals of the President’s worst decisions,”  Brown said.

The Prince George’s County-based representative reports to have added an additional $1.2 billion for Maryland businesses above the President’s budget request. That would help support the state’s communities and continue the advancement of the aerospace and defense industry. Brown proclaims “notable increases” that include advanced technologies such as next generation communications equipment, unmanned air vehicles, additive manufacturing, power systems for directed energy, and advanced radars.

Maryland’s military installations will also receive over $2 billion that will maintain its status on the front line of national security.

Joint Base Andrews has been appropriated $101 million for infrastructure improvements, including a training administration facility and the Presidential aircraft complex.

Fort Meade expects to receive $426 million for facility improvements at the National Security Agency.

Bethesda Naval Hospital gets $33 million for a medical center addition, while Fort Detrick should benefit from $28 million for a medical research building.

Havre de Grace’s National Guard will receive $12 million Army National Guard maintenance shop, while $15 million has been allocated to Saint Inigoes Naval Warfare Center for it’s Air Traffic Control Tower.

HBCUs have provisions in this year’s budget also. One of the bill’s amendments increases funding for the HBCU and minority serving institutions program to $50.7 million, which is a $20 million increase over  President Trump’s 2020 budget proposal and a $10 million rise over the FY-2019 authorization. The program funds scholarships and research opportunities for minorities and reinforces the importance of minorities to defense research, which now includes explicit language supporting minority women.

The Homecoming Research Act, which forms the National Security Commission on Defense Research, would be conducted by HBCUs. The commission is designed to address inequality in defense funding and identify ways to build research capacity at HBCUs and other minority institutions. The bill additionally requires an assessment of university subcontracts with HBCUs as part of the evaluation of the award of future research grants.