Larsen Votes for Defense Bill to Strengthen Readiness, Protect Our Troops, Raise Military Pay
House Armed Services Committee Member U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) applauded the passage of H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which passed the House today by a vote of 397 to 27. The bill increases military pay, strengthens military readiness and supports our troops with needed training and equipment, among other provisions. In total, it authorizes $503.8 billion in budget authority for the Department of Defense (DoD) and the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DoE), as well as $141.8 billion to support ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The National Defense Authorization Act passed out of the Armed Services Committee last week. Larsen released the following statement today:
"As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am working to meet the needs of the men and women in our military. This bill sends them a strong message of support by authorizing a 3.5 % across-the-board pay raise for U.S. military personnel. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has sent a different message by calling our military pay raise unnecessary' and threatening a veto.
"Today, almost all of our active-duty combat units at home and all of our guard units are at the lowest level of readiness. The United States has not fully mobilized to meet the needs of our military and maintain military readiness.
"This bill will strengthen our military readiness and our ability to fight terrorists around the world. Specifically, we provide $13.6 billion for the Army and $8.4 billion for the Marine Corps to address equipment reset requirements, $1 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment, and $250 million to address training shortfalls throughout the Armed Services.
"The National Defense Authorization Act devotes significant resources to protecting our troops. It provides an additional $4.1 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicles, which have been shown to dramatically reduce the casualties caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs). This bill also provides funding to make sure our service men and women have the body armor and armored humvees they need to protect them in the field.
"Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and materials is a key part of protecting our national security. This bill would strengthen and expand the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration's non-proliferation programs and the Department of Defense's Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.
"The National Defense Authorization Act also protects health care for those who serve by prohibiting fee increases in TRICARE, a health benefit program offered to military personnel and their families."
"Finally, I'm pleased to announce that the National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $1.3 billion for 18 new Growlers, $23.4 million for facility improvements and $10 million for an interior aircraft wash rack at NAS Whidbey."