DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006. -- (House of Representatives - June 20, 2005)
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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to support the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2006. This bill appropriated $408.9 billion for the Department of Defense. This included a $45.3 billion appropriation for the ongoing U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I am pleased that this bill helps keep our faith to our service members by providing them with a much needed pay increase. It authorizes a 3.1 percent across-the-board pay raise for our active duty and reserve troops. This is the seventh consecutive year that Congress has provided a pay raise for our men and women in uniform. This will help to reduce the pay gap between average military and civilian pay.
I am glad that this bill does not fund the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator. While I understand the threat that certain underground bunkers or facilities may pose, creating these weapons would only serve to undermine our global counterproliferation goals. Moving forward with a new generation of nuclear weapons would send a simple message to Iran, North Korea and other emerging or potential nuclear-armed states: "We want new nuclear weapons, and you should, too." I am glad this program has thus far been rejected and I will continue to oppose any efforts to fund it.
The bill also provides $416 million for the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, to help prevent the nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union from falling into the hands of terrorists or others who would wish to do us harm. I am pleased that we are providing more than we did last year for this important program, but we have a lot of work remaining to do, and I regret that we did not provide more money to help secure, dismantle and eliminate WMD's and WMD facilities.
I am glad that after three years, we have finally started to fund the ongoing operation in Iraq and Afghanistan through the normal legislative process. I believe we should not be funding military operations that are foreseen through emergency supplemental appropriations, as we have done in the past. We have soldiers in the field, and we know that we'll be continuing military operations against al Qaeda and its surrogates for the foreseeable future. The bridge funding provided for Iraq and Afghanistan in this bill recognizes this.
I am, however, concerned by some of the provisions contained within this bill.
First, I am deeply troubled that this bill again contains funding for missile defense. Under this bill, $7.6 billion would be appropriated for ballistic-missile defense programs within the Missile Defense Agency. The total includes funding for the initial deployment of a national missile-defense system based in Alaska and California. Not only has this program continually failed to work even under less-than-real-world test scenarios, but it is a dangerous system that could jeopardize our national security.
While I support providing our troops in harm's way with the best equipment possible, I am troubled by the ever increasing human toll the Iraq war is inflicting on our nation. Last week, some of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle introduced legislation calling for the withdrawal of American forces, and a clear majority of Americans understand that things are badly off track in Iraq.
Indeed, there is good reason to believe that the centerpiece of the Bush administration's exit strategy for Iraq-the program to train and equip the Iraqi security forces to take over the domestic security mission from our troops-is in grave peril.
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