As part of his ongoing commitment to our men and women in uniform, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-9) today voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 authorizing more than $550 billion for standard Department of Defense operations and $130 billion to support our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We must support our military men and women who are putting their lives on the line to defend our nation and our freedoms, and we must remain committed to the fight against terrorist regimes that seek to destroy our way of life," Luetkemeyer said. "Despite political games by the Majority that includes a divisive non-defense related measure tacked onto the bill, I supported this legislation because our men and women in uniform are my top priority."
The legislation increases military pay by 3.4 percent and increases from $500 to $1,100 the maximum monthly supplemental subsistence allowance paid to low-income service members with spouses. The bill also includes $2,900 per month for active duty service members suffering from a catastrophic injury or illness. Furthermore, the legislation prohibits fee increases on TRICARE inpatient care for one year, and extends TRICARE eligibility to reserve members so they can now receive full TRICARE coverage 180 days before they go on active duty. Previously, reserve members were only eligible 90 days before they went on active duty.
The legislation increases active duty troop levels by authorizing 30,000 additional soldiers, 8,100 more Marines, 14,650 more airmen and 2,477 additional sailors. The bill includes $6.9 billion to address equipment shortfalls for the National Guard and Reserves.
The National Defense Authorization Act also provides General Stanley McChrystal, the senior commander of U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan, with the following critical authorities needed to successfully prosecute the war: $1.3 billion for the Commanders Emergency Response Program; $7.4 billion for the Afghan National Security Forces Fund, which are key to increasing the size of the Afghan National Security Forces; and $500 million to rapidly build facilities needed to support the war in Afghanistan. The bill would prohibit the release of Guantanamo Bay detainees into the United States and would require the President to provide a comprehensive detainee plan before transferring detainees to the U.S. for detention or prosecution.
Luetkemeyer strongly opposed the Majority's decision to tack the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 onto the defense authorization. Luetkemeyer opposed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act when it came before the House earlier this year because of his belief that it would make one person's life more valuable than another person's life. The congressman has argued that all violent crime is wrong, is founded in hate, is devastating to victims and communities and it should always be vigorously prosecuted.