House Approves Three Case Amendments in Passage of Annual Defense Bill
They include addressing tour helicopter overflights of military installations such as Pearl Harbor
Honolulu, HI, July 12, 2019
Tags: Government Reform , Veterans , National Security , Foreign Relations
(Honolulu, HI) – The full U.S. House has approved three floor amendments by U.S. Congressman Ed Case (Hawai‘i – District 1) in its passage today of H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020.
The NDAA is the federal government’s annual approval of overall defense spending. This year’s NDAA as approved by the House authorizes a total of $733 billion for the upcoming fiscal year and reflects priorities in defending our country, protecting our interests abroad and supporting our troops and their families.
Case’s first amendment calls on the U.S. Defense Department to review civilian aircraft flights over military installations and report on any regulatory changes required to ensure optimal operations and security.
“Like many others, I have personally witnessed various aircraft, especially tour helicopters, overfly our military installations regularly. Most acute has been Pearl Harbor, which tour helicopters regularly cross, around fifty-plus times a day, at low altitude over or near very sensitive areas such as the SEALS and submarine bases, compromising operations and security and risking lives on the ground.
“This is in addition to the USS Arizona Memorial and USS Missouri where they particularly hover. When visitors previously disembarked from the tour boats onto the Arizona Memorial site itself, they were advised to speak in hushed tones – for this is the final resting place of more than 1,100 servicemen who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor. For tour helicopters to disturb the peace and sanctity of these special places and their appreciation by millions of visitors every year is just unacceptable.
“You would think that our military could control their own airspace against such risks and consequences, but my review reflects that that is largely not the case in a largely unregulated environment. I have discussed this situation with our military leaders who share these concerns, and this study is to get to the bottom of just how widespread this issue is across our country and specifically what needs to be done to address unneeded interference in our military operations and disruption of our memorials,” said Case.
Case’s specific amendment requires the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment to submit a report to the Congress describing:
"We welcome a study called for by Congressman Case," said Aileen Utterdyke, President and CEO of Pacific Historic Parks. "As the state's top visitor attraction, the USS Arizona Memorial gets its share of tour helicopter traffic. Besides safety factors, we believe the study should examine the impacts aerial tours have on the solemnity of a memorial honoring those killed on Dec. 7, 1941."
The NDAA includes two additional amendments authored by Case.
“When we look at our national defense strategy over the next generation and focus our priorities in this and future NDAAs and other measures, we cannot help but look to Hawaii’s corner of the world, the Indo-Pacific,” said Case. “And there we must focus increasingly on our neighbors in the Pacific, those twenty-odd Pacific island nations and parts of our country and others which together with their ocean areas include, and are larger than, Russia and China combined. These islands are our natural partners yet are under increasing pressure from a variety of sources including China. My amendments add to our increased focus in this critical region.”
The bill also contains various provisions specifically authorizing Hawai’i projects already funded the House Appropriations Committee, on which Case serves. These include:
Overall, the NDAA authorizes funding for critical manpower and material needs vital to the defense strategy within our country and overseas. Key provisions include: