New policies are meant to improve the lives of service members.
Freshman Rep. Jared Golden, a former Marine infantryman who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, got several changes included in a major defense spending bill that takes effect in 2020, after nearly a year of bipartisan work.
Golden, a Democrat from Maine who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, has 75,000 veterans living in his district. His goal was to include policy changes in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, that improve the lives of service members.
The NDAA is considered a “must pass” bill every year, as it establishes funding levels and sets policy for the Defense Department. The legislation, which passed the House in July, authorizes the allocation of funding for a laundry list of policies, programs and initiatives. House and Senate negotiators spent months reconciling their versions of the legislation, and a final version passed in December.
One policy changed he added includes the requirement for clearer labels for prescription drugs dispensed by the Defense Department, including information like directions for proper use and health and safety instructions. The policy change will also bring more business to Golden’s district, as a local paper company will be in charge of printing the new prescription labels.
The defense policy bill also includes a repeal of the taxes that affected the Survivor Benefit Plan or “widow’s tax.” The repeal would prevent the reduction of payments to widows and their families by $11,000. The National Military Family Association tweeted their support, saying it was a “huge win for surviving families and our military families deserve no less.”
Another provision included in the legislation authorizes research at the University of Maine and other institutions for innovations in lasers, thermoplastics and composites, which will be used by armed forces in the future, according to Golden’s office.
“For the last ten months, I’ve worked with Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate to make sure the defense authorization bill keeps our country safe, looks out for our service members and their families, and supports Maine jobs,” said Golden in a statement. “I’m proud that we’ve worked together to strike a bipartisan compromise that delivers on these priorities. This legislation will ensure our military is prepared to provide for our national security in a dangerous world and takes care of our servicemembers and their families ”
Clarification: This post has been updated to clarify the details of the legislation.