Rep. Cole Votes for Defense Funding and Domestic Priorities
Early this morning, Congressman Tom Cole voted the Defense Appropriations Conference Report (H.R. 2863) that provides $453.5 billion to fight the global war on terror, enhance our security and improve the lives of our service men and women, as well as providing funding for other national priorities such as hurricane relief and avian flu preparedness. This legislation also included a provision to allow drilling in Artic National Wildlife Refuge to increase our domestic supply of oil.
As point man on the powerful Rules Committee for all defense issues, Congressman Cole led the debate on the rule for this legislation. A rule must be passed before the actual piece of legislation is debatable.
"This bill provides vital funding for our troops, including a 3.1 percent military pay raise. It also ensures that our military is equipped for current and future challenges, whatever they may be," Congressman Cole said.
H.R. 2863 fully funds a 3.1 percent military pay raise, effective January 1, 2006, as well as $1.2 billion for body armor and other gear our troops need in the field. It includes $1.4 billion to test and field electronic jammers to counteract improvised explosive devices (IEDs). An additional $150 million is provided to fund increases in life insurance and death gratuities. Impact Aid is also funded in this legislation.
This appropriation bill contains many provisions that are particularly important to the mission and military installations in Oklahoma.
In this legislation, the Army's Future Combat System (FCS) research and development program is funded at $3.2 billion. Congressman Cole was able to secure $40.8 million above the President's request for the non-line of sight cannon (NLOS). Total funding for NLOS cannon will be $148.8 million. Language was included in the bill, to develop NLOS cannon separate from Future Combat Systems. This ensures NLOS cannon will be fielded by 2010, even if FCS is pushed back.
"With this legislation the Army will continue to move forward with its plans to develop the non-line of sight cannon. I will continue working to ensure this program receives the funding it needs to stay on track," Congressman Cole said.
H.R. 2860 includes $50 billion in emergency funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including $1 billion in additional equipment for the Army and Air National Guard and Army Reserve.
"The House made it very clear last week that we must stay the course in Iraq and we must be successful. The president also reiterated his commitment in an address to the nation last night. These funds will go directly to the men and women who are in Iraq and Afghanistan for pay and equipment. We must give them the tools they need to be successful," Congressman Tom Cole said.
In addition to funding our defense priorities, this legislation meets some of our domestic priorities as well. This bill will provide a total of $29 billion in disaster assistance to hurricane damaged areas in the Gulf Coast. This legislation provided $3.8 billion for avian flu preparedness that will be used to upgrade state and local response capacity in case of an outbreak. In order to help keep spending down, both of these provisions will be completely off-set by a one percent across the board reduction in FYO6 discretionary spending and additional savings.
"While remaining fiscally responsible, the House was able to provide assistance to those affected by Hurricane Katrina and funds to prevent a major avian flu outbreak in the United States," Congressman Cole said. "I believe it is very important during this time of major spending obligations to find ways to reduce spending levels in other areas-- keeping our national priorities in order."
Also included in this legislation is a provision to allowing 10.4 billion barrels of oil to be produced in the northern coastal plain of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, known as ANWR.
"I am particularly pleased that the provision to allow for oil production in ANWR was included in this legislation. Increasing our domestic supply of oil--although not the only solution--will help us decrease our energy dependence on unstable foreign countries," Congressman Cole said.
This legislation must now pass in the Senate before it is sent to the President for his signature.