CONGRESS PASSES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL
Legislation providing $459.3 billion in 2008 for defense programs - and $32.96 million for projects in Delaware -passed the U.S. House and Senate late yesterday.
The defense appropriations conference report (H.R. 3222), which passed the House (400-15) and was approved in the Senate by voice vote, now goes to the president for his signature.
The legislation, supported by Sens. Joe Biden and Tom Carper (both D-Del.) and Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), provides funding for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and other military priorities. It includes funding for a 3.5 percent pay raise for all military personnel, for Army and Marine Corps personnel growth next year by 7,000 and 5,000 respectively, for counselors, teachers, and child care providers for military families, and for improvements in military medical care.
The bill also includes $11.63 billion to build and transport to Iraq Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, a move spearheaded by Sen. Biden and something Sen. Carper and Rep. Castle strongly supported. In May, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the lead ground commander in Iraq, asked to replace every Army up-armored humvee with an MRAP. The Commandant of the Marine Corps has said that those in MRAPs have a 300% better chance of surviving an improvised explosive device (IED) attack than those in an up-armored humvee. These additional funds will allow over 15,000 MRAPs to get to Iraq and Afghanistan by next fall.
Additionally, for the second straight year, the bill includes a provision authored by Rep. Castle in the House and backed by Sen. Carper in the Senate, which would prohibit bonuses from going to defense contractors who fail to meet their contractual requirements.
"We have no higher obligation than to protect those we send to the front lines," said Sen. Biden. "The fifth year of this mismanaged war has been the deadliest for our troops, and the vast majority of American casualties are caused by roadside bombs. I am heartened to know that my amendmentwith the support of Democrats and Republicans working togetherwill provide technology and equipment that will save American lives on the ground in Iraq."
Sen. Carper said: "This defense bill provides essential funding for our nation's military forces. And closer to home, it provides nearly $33 million for a variety of defense projects across the state of Delaware that benefit our entire armed forces."
"The men and women who serve our country represent the very best among us, and this bill will ensure they have the tools and equipment they need," said Rep. Castle. "It is also crucial that we make certain this funding is spent efficiently, and I am pleased that the final bill includes provisions to fight spending waste. Here in Delaware, we have often led the way in developing cutting-edge military technology and this bill guarantees this innovation will continue."
This bill also allows the military to pursue important defense research and production work being done in Delaware, including:
* $1.6 million for University of Delaware Millimeter Wave Imaging & Sensor Technology which will allow the military to see through obstacles like smoke or sand;
* $6.6 million for University of Delaware-Center for Composite Materials work for the Army, including $1.6 million for work for the Army on an advanced, lighter composite armored ambulance, $3 million for a composite armored truck cab able to add various armor packages, and $2 million for work on lighter composite add-on vehicle armor.
* $9.4 million for Biological Defense work being done in Delaware, including $4 million for plant vaccine development , $3 million for the development of a nano-technology based Biological Agent Identifier; and $2.4 million for work on an automated, integrated biological defense planner for warfighters;
* $1.6 million for Micropore, Inc.'s work on Reactive Plastic CO2 Absorbent Production Capacity, a critical technology improvement for rebreathers used by SEALS, subs, mines, etc.
* $1.6 million for DuPont's work on an lightweight fuel-cell power source for soldiers;
* $4 million for the DE Air Guard, including $800,000 for the DE Air Guard's 166th Information Operations Squadron to continue vital intelligence activities; and $3.2 million to replace out-dated C-130 radars with AN/ANP-241 radars;
* $8.16 million for W.L. Gore's protective clothing for Marines ($3.2 million for the Combat Desert Jacket) and for the Army Guard and Reserve ($3.2 million and $1.76 million respectively for Extended Cold Weather Clothing System, generation 2).