If legislation fully approved, $2 million would be allocated to COC for defense-related education
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, voted in favor of the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act Thursday, an $847.3 billion defense bill, which passed the House and would include a $2 million allocation for College of the Canyons.
“While not perfect, I voted in support of the FY2023 NDAA, which will fund critical weapons programs to support our military and stay ahead of an aggressive China,” Garcia said in a prepared statement. “This legislation did not go far enough to provide adequate pay and benefits for our troops, but this bill is still good for our country and our district in the long term.”
According to Garcia, the NDAA would positively impact communities by bringing jobs and development in the defense sector for California’s 25th Congressional District, which he represents and includes the Santa Clarita Valley. (The district, with some new boundaries due to redistricting, becomes the 27th District effective Jan. 3.)
Garcia’s statement also said that he secured an earmark of approximately $2 million for COC for the purpose of training critical skillsets for those entering the aerospace and defense sectors in his district.
According to Eric Harnish, COC’s vice president of public information, advocacy and external relations, the community college is “extremely appreciative” to Garcia and his staff for getting the college considered for that funding.
If the legislation is fully approved, the funding would enable the college to purchase equipment that would be used to facilitate training in what is known as non-destructive inspections. Harnish elaborated that it would be a new program for COC to implement.
In addition, the NDDA would terminate the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for military service members.
“This mandate was unconstitutional from the start and led to many discharges for heroic service members in our military,” Garcia said in his statement.
The NDDA would provide funding for several programs including $20 million for the U-2 Dragon program, $580 million to fund three MQ-4 Tritons, $1.7 billion in funding for the B-21 Raider program, $3.6 billion for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program, $750 million for eight F/A-18 strike fighter jets, $520 million for thirty-five Apache helicopters, funding for 38 F-35 planes and full funding for critical classified programs.
According to Garcia’s office, he and his staff will advocate for a service member pay raise necessary for all service members to make the equivalent of at least $15 an hour.
The National Defense Authorization Act includes a 4.6% pay raise for the military. But, according to Garcia, the raise is “meager” considering the current 8% inflation rate.
“There is still work to be done to address the strike-fighter shortfall, provide service members the pay and benefits they deserve, and reinstate the pay and benefits for all those discharged from the military for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Garcia said in his statement. “However, the programs funded in this bill are critical to our collective and national security, which led to my support of the legislation.”