Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Introduces NDAA Amendments on South America, Climate, Justice Reform
WASHINGTON, D.C. - This week, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) introduced ten amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Consistent with her belief that the U.S. should support the truth and reconciliation efforts of South and Central American governments, several of these amendments directed relevant federal agencies to release classified information relating to U.S. involvement with previous authoritarian governments in Chile, Colombia and Brazil. To address current human rights abuses in the region, she also introduced amendments conditioning military aid to Peru and banning support for aerial fumigation in Colombia.
“It’s time for the U.S. to acknowledge its history of contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America,” said the Congresswoman in a statement. “To reset this relationship, we must take full, public responsibility for our historical role - and demonstrate with our present actions that we will not support human rights abuses.”
The Congresswoman also introduced several amendments relating to environmental justice, including asking the Department of State to conduct a study on the feasibility of providing debt relief to countries in the Amazon in exchange for commitment to protect the rainforest. Additionally, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez reintroduced an amendment, asking for a report on on-going clean up efforts in Vieques and Culebra, Puerto Rico, where unspent munitions and hazardous materials from abandoned military installations have posed humanitarian and environmental hazards. Finally, the Congresswoman also introduced an amendment to ensure federal contractors are complying with recent rule changes that make it easy for the formerly-incarcerated to reenter the workforce.
The Congresswoman's amendment on Puerto Rico received a vote in the House on Wednesday and passed. It will be included in the NDAA, which is expected to receive a vote later this week. The Congresswoman's other amendments are awaiting review to see if they will be considered for a vote.
Summary of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s NDAA Amendments
Enforce Fair Chance Improvement Act. Currently,there is a prohibition on criminal history inquiries by Defense and Federal contractors. However, the Department of Defense, which has the authority to investigate federal contractors who are violating this law, does not have the proper infrastructure to carry out the requirement. This amendment would shift the regulatory authority to the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to establish compliance procedures and determine whether a contractor has committed any violations. The Department of Defense has expressed their support for the amendment.
Strengthen Reporting of Military Emissions. The U.S. Military is widely suspected to undercount its emissions, and its reports to the UN and Congress differ significantly. This amendment would require an unclassified report on why these reports have differed.
Increase Transparency on PFAS Cleanup Efforts. An amendment requiring the Department of Defense to, within 1 year, prepare a report on the status of cleanup efforts of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from U.S. Military bases on downstream communities and ecosystems, including outstanding barriers to further cleanup efforts. PFAS, which are used in firefighting foam on military bases, are linked to a wide range of health problems, including kidney and testicular cancer, as well as endocrine disruption and immune system suppression.
Study Debt Swap to Protect Amazon.Requires the Secretary of State to conduct a study on the feasibility of providing debt relief to countries in the Amazon region in exchange for commitments to conserve key areas of the Amazon Rainforest.
Declassify Documents on Chilean Coup. Ahead of the 50th anniversary of Chile’s 1973 coup, this amendment would seek to declassify all information at State, the CIA and the DoD relating to the U.S.’s involvement in Chile’s coup.
Oppose Aerial Fumigation in Colombia. The amendment prohibits funds from being used to conduct aerial fumigation in Colombia due to detrimental human health and environmental effects.
Release Colombian Human Rights Report. This amendment instructs the State Department to prepare a report documenting knowledge and intelligence from 1980-2010 regarding Colombian military involvement in assassinations, disappearances, collaboration in paramilitary offensives, military conduct in the false positives initiative from 2002-2008, and any gross violations of human rights resulting from the Colombian military’s partnerships with private companies for security. The report should also provide an overview of U.S.-Colombia military partnership during this time.
Report on Brazilian Military Forces. Directs the Secretary of State to submit an unclassified report to Congress on an overview of the U.S.-Brazil military partnership between 1964 and 1985. A 1964 military coup overthrew Brazil’s democratic government, allegedly resulting in the deaths of thousands of indigenous Brazilians.
Condition Aide to Peru: Dozens of protesters have been killed following the removal of Pedro Castillo from the presidency and then-VP Dina Boluarte’s ascendance. The amendment calls for human rights conditions on security assistance to Peru.
Release Report on Clean-Up Efforts in Vieques and Culebra, Puerto Rico. Unspent munitions and hazardous materials from abandoned military installations have posed humanitarian and environmental hazards in the region.