An abandoned house is seen in the Medina Annex at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland in San Antonio, Texas U.S. November 16, 2019. (Reuters/Callaghan O'Hare)

(Reuters) - Congress on Tuesday approved the largest overhaul to the American military's housing program in more than two decades, vowing to end slum-like living conditions and hold private landlords and defense officials accountable for them.

The reforms, included in the yearly National Defense Authorization Act, aim to protect some 200,000 military families living on U.S. bases from health hazards including mold, lead, asbestos and pest infestations. The problems have been detailed by Reuters since last year in a series of investigations, Ambushed at Home.

The congressional action was prompted by the Reuters reports and a growing chorus of complaints from military families who joined forces to decry substandard living conditions.

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(Glow Images via Associated Press_

Average pay, housing and subsistence allowances will increase for members of the military in 2020, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

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General Dynamic's NGSW-AR prototype in action (Courtesy photo via The Firearm Blog)

It looks as though lawmakers aren't too keen on shelling out additional funding for the Army's much-hyped next-generation squad weapon after all.

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Spc. Woo Jung, Company A, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, shows the difference of water quality after being processed utilizing the Tactical Water Purification System during a training exercise on Hunter Army Airfield Jan. 27. (U.S. Army/Spc. Scott Lindblom)

Congress has reached a deal on a spending bill that would require the military to stop using firefighting foam containing toxic chemicals linked to cancer, but would abandon efforts to place stronger regulations on the chemicals.

The bill, called the National Defense Authorization Act, has been the focus of intense negotiations for months. House Democrats saw it as their best chance to force President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency to increase its oversight of a class of chemicals, called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances — commonly known as PFAS — that have contaminated drinking water sources across the country.

Senate Republicans resisted these measures, wary of forcing chemical companies and the Defense Department to undertake extensive cleanups.

But when hopes of a compromise faded last week, Democrats were left with little choice but to agree to significantly weaker provisions or kill the entire defense spending bill.

The bill that emerged out of a joint House-Senate committee this week had been stripped of measures that would require the EPA to designate the chemicals as "hazardous" and set a nationwide safety standard for PFAS in drinking water.

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(DoD photo)

Gold Star family members might finally see an end to the so-called "Widows Tax" thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.

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Marines of India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion on the day before their graduation at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego on August 8, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Zachary Beatty)

Editor's Note: This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Marine Corps senior leaders have begun to express cautious openness to the idea of making the service's boot camps fully co-ed. But if Congress has its way, the service may be pushed toward full integration sooner than expected.

The final conference version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision that would require the service to integrate both its East Coast and West Coast entry-level training facilities within the next eight years.

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