Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today after the House passed the conference report for the fiscal year 2010 Defense Authorization bill, which helps improve our military readiness, and supports our troops and their families. The conference report also includes bipartisan provisions to strengthen law enforcement against hate crimes. The bill passed by a vote of 281 to 146:
"The Defense Authorization bill reflects Congress' unyielding commitment to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. We owe a debt of gratitude to them for their sacrifice, service, courage, and bravery.
"This legislation ensures that our military has the resources it needs to defend our nation. It increases pay for the women and men in our armed forces, helps soldiers' families endure the strain of multiple deployments, and invests in state-of-the-art equipment and weapons systems. It further provides for the continued responsible redeployment of our troops out of Iraq, and refocuses our efforts on countering Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"This legislation also gives state and local law enforcement the tools they need to prevent and prosecute hate crimes nationwide, helping protect Americans against bias-motivated violence and securing our fundamental right to feel safe in our communities.
"This nation was founded on the promise of pluralism; a commitment to equality and opportunity; and the belief that liberty and justice for all' is not simply an empty pledge -- it rests at the core of our identity as a people. No American should ever have to suffer persecution or violence because of who they are, how they look, or what they believe.
"With today's vote, the House has beckoned the better angels of our nature' as Americans. We are standing with the families of Matthew Shepard, James Byrd Jr., and countless other victims of hate crimes. Their voices are our inspiration. Their cries for justice are our motive for action. I applaud my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who supported this measure and stating in a clear voice that the forces of hate have no place in the United States of America."