U.S. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) today joined a majority of his House colleagues in voting to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill will modernize our military, increase benefits for our troops and their families, and fully fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Spratt, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said: "Our nation is fighting two wars and modernizing our military to secure against future threats, all at the same time. For these reasons, this bill authorizes $726 billion for defense, an increase of 6.7% over last year."
Specifically, the National Defense Authorization Act:
* Continues our commitment to fighting terrorism, by providing our troops with the equipment and training they need to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al "Qaida and its extremist allies. "This bill makes counterterrorism a priority, with an emphasis on understanding the recruitment and fundraising tools being used by terrorists," Spratt said.
* Streamlines the process for developing and purchasing equipment, while reducing waste and unnecessary costs. "We need to replace and repair equipment, address current shortfalls, and buy the necessary gear to protect our troops from IEDs and threats on the battlefield. This needs to be done quickly and efficiently, in a fiscally responsible way, and this bill does that with improvements to the Department of Defense's acquisition process," said Spratt.
* Provides for Congressional oversight of operations in Iraq, requiring reports focused on the redeployment of U.S. troops and their equipment as they withdraw. The reports will ensure that, as the U.S. stands down, the Iraqi government stands up and takes responsibility for its own country.
* Makes historic investments in nonproliferation programs, to keep vulnerable nuclear materials and weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of our enemies. "The efforts of terrorist organizations to obtain nuclear devices is one of the most serious threats facing our nation today," said Spratt. "This bill takes significant steps to prevent them from acquiring nuclear material."
* Provides for a 1.9 percent pay raise (.5% more than the President's budget request) for all service members, continuing efforts of the past several years to reduce the gap between the uniformed services and the private sector. The bill also increases the amount of hostile fire and imminent danger pay for the first time since 2004, and increases family separation allowance for our service members whose deployment or temporary duty requires them to live away from their families.
* Extends TRICARE benefits to dependent children until age 26, the same benefit provided to individuals with private insurance policies under the new health care law.
* Includes $345 million to modernize Department of Defense schools, $65 million for Impact Aid education programs, and the creation of a new career development pilot program for military spouses.
"This is a good bill," said Spratt. "I am proud of what it does for our nation, and for our service members and their families."