Hirono Votes to Strengthen Military, Support Our Troops
After Delay Caused by President, Troops Will Get Pay Raise, Bonuses and Benefits
Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono today joined an overwhelming bipartisan majority and backed a plan to strengthen our military, support our troops and improve military readiness. The defense authorization bill (H.R. 4986) was approved by a vote of 369-46 in the House of Representatives and is expected to be passed by the Senate as soon as it returns next week. The Administration has said that the President will sign the bill.
The defense authorization bill was originally passed by the House of Representatives by an overwhelming vote of 370 to 49 on December 12, 2007 and by the Senate by an overwhelming vote of 90 to 3 on December 14.
However, the President abruptly and unexpectedly vetoed this critical, urgently-needed bill on December 28 without telling Congress of his concerns about a provision concerning Americans who sue state sponsors of terrorist acts against them. The veto was unnecessary because Congressional leaders had made clear that the President's concerns could be dealt with easily on separate legislation when Congress returned in January.
"I voted for this bill today so our troops will now get a pay raise of 3.5 percent, as well as other essential benefits included in this legislation," said Congresswoman Hirono. "We worked to make sure that the pay raise and the special pays and bonuses for the troops were made retroactive to January 1."
"This legislation will make our armed forces stronger and our nation more secure," said Congresswoman Hirono. "The bill protects our servicemembers and their families and helps ensure that our troops have all the resources they need and deserve."
The Defense Authorization bill authorizes new resources for additional Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs,) up-armored Humvees and body armor. The legislation also includes resources for efforts to stop Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that have proven to be a threat to American troops in Iraq.
The legislation also includes critical support for troops and their families by providing a pay raise for troops that goes above the President's request and blocking fee increases in the military health care program (TRICARE). Additionally, the bill includes the Wounded Warrior Act, which responds to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal by improving the care of injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Many men and women from Hawaii are risking their lives for our nation," added Congresswoman Hirono. "They deserve the best equipment on the ground and the best medical care when they come home."
The defense authorization bill takes steps to remedy the Army readiness crisis in America. Army readiness has dropped to unprecedented levels, and Army National Guard units have, on average, only 40 percent of their required equipment. Furthermore, many stateside units are not fully equipped and would not be considered ready if called upon to respond during an emergency.
The measure passed in the House today helps restore our nation's military readiness by creating a Strategic Readiness Fund to address equipment shortfalls, fully funding the Army's and Marine Corps' equipment reset requirements, and authorizing new resources to provide the National Guard and Reserve critically needed equipment.