By Carlotta Mohamed
The House passed U.S. Rep. Grace Meng’s (D-Flushing) several measures to be added to the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides assistance to members of the U.S. military, as the nation observed Memorial Day.
The National Defense Authorization Act is legislation that sets funding levels and policies for the U.S. Department of Defense for the fiscal year 2019. The provisions, which Meng authored, includes six separate amendments in the NDAA.
“My measures would ensure that the Department of Defense is able to retain talent by strengthening family-leave policies and providing data on challenges that women face at various career stages,” said Meng. “I’m also proud that my amendments will improve the Department of Defense’s ability to respond during crises and ensure proper oversight of artificial intelligence and machine learning. I now look forward to my provisions in the NDAA moving through the Senate.”
The congresswoman’s measures include:
Allowing any member of the armed forces who gives birth to be exempt from deployment for up to 12 months following childbirth and requiring the secretary of Defense to permit military parents flexible (non-continuous) maternity and paternity leave, allowing time off to be spread out over time instead of being used all at once.
Developments for a burn patient transfer system to be authorized by the secretary of Defense, which would include military and civilian burn centers that could be used in mass casualty events.
A requirement of the Department of Defense to create exit surveys on attrition levels for members of the military in order to better understand why attrition rates are higher for women than men.
The last two provisions include the Jet Noise Reduction Program within the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research to reduce noise produced by high performance military jets, and an Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Policy and Oversight Council. The new council will be responsible for overseeing the research, development and deployment of artificial intelligence and autonomous machines used by the military.
The provisions were co-sponsored by Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL).
“In looking towards the future, it is important to maximize the potential for artificial intelligence in a thoughtful and ethical fashion. That is why I’m proud to join efforts with Congresswoman Meng to add an oversight component to the newly created Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Policy and Oversight Council,” said Soto. “Our nation’s economy will strongly benefit from artificial intelligence by helping to create higher paying jobs and improving our quality of life, and this measure will ensure we get there in the right way.”
Aside from one other member of Congress, Meng secured the most amendments passed in this year’s NDAA. This year 206 House members submitted 578 amendments for consideration to the bill.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha