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Mr. SPRATT. I thank my good friend and colleague for yielding and commend him for the job he has done in bringing together an excellent bill to this floor.
This bill fully funds national security activities in the Departments of Defense and Energy, including top-line funding increases for DOD as well as fully funding Iraq and Afghanistan operations. This is the fourth consecutive year that the Congress has significantly increased funding for the military of this country. Overall, this bill provides $548 billion for DOD, $159 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a total altogether of $726 billion, if you include the Department of Energy.
Among the unsung heroes in our national military are the families who serve every bit as much as the member, particularly when there is deployment in the family. This bill recognizes the vital role they play and provides a 1.9 percent pay increase, it expands TRICARE health coverage to include adult dependent children up to the age of 26, it increases family separation allowance for troops who are deployed and away from their families, and it increases hostile fire and imminent danger pay for the first time since 2004.
There will be more extensive debate later on the alternate engine, which this bill accommodates and provides for. Let me simply say I think it makes sense and saves money--it will in the long run--because the $100 billion program for the engine alone is something where competition is vitally needed.
Having followed the course of ballistic missile defense for some time, it's of interest to me that this bill amply provides for military defense for a robust missile defense, providing $10.3 billion, which is $361.6 million above the budget request.
Let me say finally that this bill is consistent too with the glide path that has been set for exploring the ramifications of a change on our Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. I think it would be wise if we left the Secretary of Defense to finish his exploration, along with the military chiefs, before dictating any changes.
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