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PA Senior Senator Advances Measures Related to China’s Cheating, PFAS, Protecting Human Rights Abroad

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that several provisions he worked to advance have been successfully adopted and passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2021.

Specifically, the 2021 NDAA includes the following priorities which Casey pushed for:

COVID Response: Senator Casey continues to look for ways to secure critical support for Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 pandemic. He supports efforts to require the president to utilize all available authorities under the Defense Production Act to mobilize a federal response to the pandemic. He introduced language to further the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) implementation of Section 3610 of the CARES Act, which authorizes interim support for small and medium-sized defense companies, and will continue to advocate for Pennsylvanian workers and businesses.

PFAS: Casey helped secure the inclusion of a number of provisions to advance research and a path toward remediation of toxic exposure to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). He has been at the forefront of efforts to address PFAS contamination in drinking water in Bucks and Montgomery Counties as a result of the use of a toxic firefighting agent at military installations.

In recent years, he helped lead efforts to authorize and increase the funding for a five-year Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study on the health effects of PFAS exposure, which will begin in the coming months. He has also worked to secure funding for DoD environmental remediation efforts. The FY21 NDAA brings Pennsylvanians one step closer toward getting PFAS out of their water and getting the federal government to take responsibility for cleanup and remediation. 

Protecting PA’s Intellectual Property: Casey is also fighting to counter Chinese, Russian and Iranian intellectual property theft from Pennsylvania’s academic research institutions. Undue foreign influences at universities throughout the United States is of increasing concern. Academic research institutions conducting sensitive DoD-sponsored research are at particular risk. Despite these concerns, universities do not have a single point of contact to work with on issues related to undue foreign influences at DoD or the entire federal government. Casey secured a provision in the Defense Authorization bill requiring DOD to designate an existing official within the Department of Defense as the Academic Liaison to protect against emerging threats. The Academic Liaison will serve as the primary point of entry for academic research institutions in implementing appropriate safeguards against malign foreign influences. The amendment will help ensure that universities are better protected against IP theft by malign foreign actors.

Locality Pay Equity Act (S. 3015): Sen. Casey’s Locality Pay Equity Act would set one local wage area within a pay locality for federal workers. This effort is aimed at resolving the wage disparity between blue- and white-collar workers at Tobyhanna Army Depot and Letterkenny Army Depot in Pennsylvania, and other federal installations around the United States. This language was included in the House NDAA and Sen. Casey will continue to fight on behalf of Pennsylvania workers.

National Guard: President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis has wreaked havoc on the American people and the institutions that serve them. The Pennsylvania National Guard has bravely stepped up to the plate, carrying out food distribution in Pittsburgh, running COVID-19 testing sites across Pennsylvania and embedding in state Veterans homes to provide additional support to medical staff. However, the National Guardsmen serving on state orders are not entitled to the same benefits as guardsmen serving on federal status, even if they are doing the same job. During this pandemic, President Trump has continuously delayed issuance and extension of federal orders, creating undue stress and uncertainty for governors, guardsmen and their families. Sen. Casey led an amendment to push DoD to conduct advance planning on 502(f) status for domestic response so that governors and the National Guard have the resources they need in national emergencies.

Veterans: Sen. Casey is a cosponsor of the Fair Care for Vietnam Vets Act, which will expand the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) list of medical conditions associated with exposure to Agent Orange to include Parkinsonism, bladder cancer and hypothyroidism. Casey supported a floor amendment to include the Fair Care for Veterans Act in the Defense Authorization bill and will continue to fight to ensure veterans get the care they need, especially for conditions that result from their service to our Nation.