WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) released the following statement applauding House passage of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The annual defense bill reflects the negotiated budget deal that finally reprioritizes our national defense while incorporating Scalise’s amendment that exempts AbilityOne products from certain Department of Defense (DOD) procurement programs in Asia and Africa. These programs, which were created to promote the economic interests of countries where our troops are deployed, resulted in blind and disabled Americans losing their jobs. Scalise’s amendment reverses this policy and ensures that AbilityOne agencies are not negatively impacted, so that they are able to supply our troops with the products they need.
“Ronald Reagan once said, ‘government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it;’ securing today’s victory for Lighthouse Louisiana and AbilityOne agencies does exactly that,” Rep. Scalise said. “It is tragic that disabled Americans are unnecessarily suffering because of the bad policy decisions coming out of this Administration. For Lighthouse Louisiana, this ill-advised policy meant dozens of lost job opportunities and millions of dollars in contracts down the drain. This important amendment would restore the contracts and the jobs of those disabled workers. I urge the Senate to quickly pass this bill, so that we can not only give our troops the resources they need to keep our country safe, but also bring home these jobs for disabled workers so they are empowered with the opportunity to pursue the American dream.”
Background on Scalise involvement:
-For 100 years, Lighthouse Louisiana has taught life skills and provided career opportunities to blind and disabled workers at its New Orleans manufacturing facility. Last year a policy change resulted in the shifting of jobs overseas with the goal of developing economies in countries where our troops serve. This decision resulted in the loss of more than 40 jobs and $18 million in contracts at Lighthouse Louisiana.
-In October 2014, Scalise sent this letter to the Administration explaining that this should not be done at the expense of jobs for disabled Americans.
-In April 2015, Scalise held a press conference with Lighthouse Louisiana to call for a reverse of this policy, and to call attention to the importance of protecting jobs at home and empowering disabled Americans.
-In May 2015, the House unanimously passed the Scalise Amendment to be included in NDAA that reverses policy negatively impacting jobs for disabled workers at Lighthouse Louisiana.
-In October 2015, the House passed the Conference Report of NDAA, which included the Scalise provision to exempt AbilityOne products from certain DOD procurement programs in Asia and Africa.