U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) voted Thursday to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes four of her amendments that are important to the large national laboratory and military presence in New Mexico.
“I am pleased to have voted for a bipartisan defense authorization bill that supports our men and women in uniform and the national laboratories and military bases in New Mexico that are vital to our national security and are an important economic driver for the state,” Lujan Grisham said. “As we strengthen the missions of those institutions, it is important to continually leverage those investments to the benefit of New Mexico’s economy. As we have done with Sandia National Laboratories, I remain committed to growing the commercialization of innovative technologies within the Department of Defense in order to support start-ups and small business development in New Mexico and across the country.”
Three of Lujan Grisham’s amendments in the defense policy bill provide defense laboratory personnel with business education, entrepreneurial sabbaticals, and new opportunities to partner with universities and businesses in order to facilitate the commercialization of innovative DOD-developed technologies.
The bill also provides service members with a 2.6% pay increase, authorizes $33.6 billion for defense health care programs, creates a national prescription drug monitoring program to try to stem the abuse of opioid-based prescription drugs, and enhances existing protections against sexual assault.
“The well-earned pay increase authorized in this bill is the largest pay increase for our troops in nine years and represents our commitment to their sacrifice and duty,” Lujan Grisham said. “Sexual assault and sexual harassment continue to be serious issues in our society and the military is no exception. We must continue to strengthen protections and expand services for our men and women in uniform as well as hold bad actors accountable.”
The fourth of Lujan Grisham’s amendments addresses an inequality among our service members. Currently female active duty military personnel are authorized 12 weeks of paid maternity leave with full credit for retirement, while females in the National Guard and Reserve can lose out on credit for their military service and points towards retirement while they are on maternity leave.
“Mothers who serve our country in the National Guard or Reserve should not have to choose between their careers and the wellbeing of their families,” Lujan Grisham said. “My amendment ensures female service members of the reserve component receive creditable military service pay and points towards retirement during time spent on maternity leave. Correcting this inequality is a smart, morale-building, family-friendly policy.”
The following four amendments were penned by Lujan Grisham and included the final NDAA Package that passed the House with strong bipartisan support:
- Paid Maternity Leave Amendment: Ensures female service members of the reserve component receive creditable military service pay and points towards retirement during time spent on maternity leave.
- Open Campus Amendment: The Army Research Lab’s Open Campus program allows collaboration between the defense laboratory, industry, and academia. This amendment authorizes the Air Force Research Lab to create a similar open campus initiative which fosters innovation and provides for rapid transition of technologies into products by entrepreneurs.
- Entrepreneurial Sabbatical Amendment: The amendment allows defense laboratory personnel to take unpaid sabbaticals to work for private sector firms in order to build their research for commercial proposes.
- Entrepreneurial Education Amendment: Often, government researchers are technical experts in their field, but do not have the skills to transition those technologies to a successful business model. This amendment authorizes the Secretary of Defense to support entrepreneurial education programs for defense laboratory personnel.