WASHINGTON — Yesterday, the House passed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Included in this defense budget will be necessary pro-labor measures, and PFAS water contamination efforts that were led by Rep. Dean.
Rep. Dean led a bipartisan public private partnership incentivizing the research and development of a PFAS Free Firefighting foam, as PFAS has long impacted southeastern Pennsylvania.
Additionally, Rep. Dean fought for the inclusion of the following provisions:
- Authorization of $15 million for a nationwide PFAS health study.
- Requirement of the National Institute of Standard and Technology to study the safety of firefighting equipment to ensure protection of firefighters from PFAS.
- Establishment of an interagency coordinating body for PFAS research.
“This study is a necessary step to help those affected by these forever chemicals that contaminate our water, as we work to prevent this from reoccurring,” Rep. Dean said. “The $15 million PFAS Health Study is a study that must turn into action so that we are able to adequately address this health issue, which is plaguing our communities.”
Unfortunately, Rep. Dean’s $10,000 student loan forgiveness provision was not included, but the budget acknowledges the growing burden of student loans. Rep. Dean looks forward to working with the next Congress and the Biden-Harris administration, to further address this important national issue.
The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act will continue historic progress on key labor and employment priorities for federal workers. The provisions for our nation’s civil servants include:
- Pandemic Leave: Allows many federal employees to carry over additional annual leave into 2021.
- Paid Parental Leave: Extends paid parental leave to approximately 100,000 federal workers.
- Elijah Cummings Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Act: Requires federal agencies to establish a model Equal Employment Opportunity Program with requirements that address discrimination in the workplace.
- Restriction on Civilian Workforce Reductions: Prohibits the Secretary of Defense from reducing the civilian workforce unless the Department assesses the impact of such reduction on workload, military force structure, lethality, readiness, and operational effectiveness.
By funding PFAS research studies and expanding labors rights for federal workers, the 2021 NDAA shows careful attention to issues that have impacted these communities and civil servants for decades.
Rep. Madeleine Dean is a mother, grandmother, attorney, professor, former four-term member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and U.S. Representative for the Fourth District of Pennsylvania.