U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today announced his support for last night's passage of S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12). This annual legislation passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 93-7 and authorizes funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) and includes several legislative measures that were either authored or supported by Inhofe.
"Maintaining a strong national defense remains my top priority in Congress," said Inhofe. "Those of us on the committee worked very hard to put together a good bill, and I offered 22 amendments on the Senate floor with the desire to make further improvements to the measure.
"I am an ardent defender of the U.S. Constitution, and the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. Unfortunately there has been much misinformation circulated regarding the provisions of this bill that codify the Supreme Court's rulings on terrorist detainees. There is no provision in S.1867 authorizing the military to arrest a U.S. citizen. To further clarify that the legislative language on detainees could not be misconstrued with regard to United States Citizen, I cosponsored a bipartisan amendment that added the following language in the bill, "Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of U.S. citizens, lawful resident aliens of the US or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.' I am committed to ensuring all authorities granted in this bill are in accordance with the Constitution.
"I commend Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain for their bipartisan leadership on this bill and their consistent effort to get floor time for the bill. The Senate Armed Services Committee reported out the 50th consecutive NDAA in mid June of this year, and I lament the fact that this important legislation did not receive floor time until late November. The NDAA is arguably the most important defense policy legislation that Congress considers every year. While I am pleased that the bill has been passed, I am concerned about the overall negative trend in support for our men and women in uniform. Every delay in Congress passing defense authorization and appropriation bills negatively impacts our military, defense contractors, personnel who support our military installations, and, ultimately, our national security.
"The downward trend set by the recent defense authorization bills, the threat of sequestration, and the lack of strategy that addresses the growing global instability from President Obama comes close to breaking our commitment to the troops, to their commanders, and to protecting our nation. While this bill provides $513 billion for the base defense budget, it is $26 billion below the President's Budget Request and almost $20 billion less than the FY11 base defense budget. Additionally, the threat of over one trillion dollars in cuts to national security programs required by the sequestration mechanism of the Budget Control Act of 2011 will make it impossible to recapitalize and reset our aging fleet of military equipment while maintaining the force structure required to ensure our national security."
Inhofe also highlighted that the bill includes authorization for a 1.6 percent pay raise for our military, new starts and key defense programs and benefits, and funds for Impact Aid. He was also pleased that the bill repeals the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan by veterans' dependency and indemnity compensation, improves operations and authorities of our National Guard, and maintains funding for a Rapid Innovation Fund to allow DOD to rapidly field new systems requested by deployed units such as the Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team currently serving in Afghanistan.
Inhofe was able to help defeat amendments offered by other Senators that would have: supported moving the headquarters of U.S. Africa Command from Germany to the United States, expedited America's withdrawal from Afghanistan, further increased TRICARE enrollment fees, limited use of cluster munitions, modified the base defense budget, and cut the Overseas Contingency Operations budget.
Measures that were either authored or sponsored by Inhofe included in S.1867:
Paladin Integration Management (PIM) Item of Special Interest: Affirms the fact that the PIM effort is now proceeding on plan, with formal Army developmental tests underway. The prior year funds approved by Congress for reprogramming to the PIM program, plus funds requested by the Army for fiscal year 2012, are all required to ensure the cost, performance, and schedule stability of the PIM program. Directs the Secretary of the Army to regularly inform the congressional defense committees on the program's progress.
Depot Maintenance: Requires DOD to formulate an industrial strategy to ensure the sustainment of effective depots and requires the Air Force to provide a report on organizational reporting structure at the Air Logistics Centers or Complexes.
Weather Study: Requires the Secretary of the Air Force to submit a plan for incorporating the latest science and technology into their weather prediction systems.
Storage Facility (With Senators Chambliss and Webb): SASC supports the Army requirement to protect and preserve historical collections, and encourages the Army to investigate all options for climate controlled storage facility solutions that includes Ft. Sill.
Detainee Provisions: Several provisions in this year's NDAA affirmed the existing authority, as outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court, of the president under the laws of war to detain in military custody any enemy combatant terrorist captured in the U.S. or abroad. The provisions do not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful resident aliens.
Chaplain Freedom of Conscience: The unwise repeal of the effective and fair Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy threatens chaplains' free exercise of their religious beliefs. An amendment approved in the Senate would formalize the religious rights of chaplains to abstain from officiating gay marriages.
Waiver for Critical Fire-Suppression Chemicals: An amendment offered by Inhofe and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid exempts a specific, critical chemical used in military fire suppression systems from a phase out mandated by the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act. No clean alternatives have emerged in the two decades since the amendment was passed, and this waiver allows for continued protection of U.S. troops.
National Guard Empowerment Act: An amendment co-sponsored by Inhofe adds the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to the Joint Chiefs of Staff alongside the four service chiefs. This policy will enhance the defense of America by placing proper emphasis on the defense of the homeland and resourcing of our citizen soldiers. It also permanently authorizes the National Guard's State Partnership Program and restores authorities previously associated with that program.
Protecting our Weapons Suppliers from Foreign Boycotts: An amendment offered by Senator Inhofe and included in the bill requires the DoD to submit a report on the impact of boycotts of our defense suppliers by overseas banks who are responding to foreign anti-war activists.
Shedding Light on Chinese Military Relationships: An amendment authored by Senator Inhofe and adopted into the Act enhances an existing annual report by the DOD on the Chinese military. The new section required under the amendment will focus on China's growing military relationships around with world with countries like North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran as well as their naval activities and their activities in the vicinity of U.S. military installations.
Safer Skies for Overseas Air Force Operations: An amendment authored by Senator Inhofe and adopted by the Senate will require the Air Force to report on the feasibility of using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to do flight checks of instruments navigational aids at foreign fields. Such a procedure may enhance safety by expanding the number of fields being checked at .
Other passed amendments co-sponsored by Inhofe include:
Ø Repeal of the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan by veterans' dependency and indemnity compensation.
Ø Improve processes and procedures to bolster the detection and avoidance of counterfeit electronic parts.
Ø Require a plan from the Department of Defense to expedite the path to a career operating commercial motor vehicles for veterans who have experience with large vehicles.
Ø Require a plan from the Department of Defense for achieving audit-readiness by the end of fiscal year 2013.
Ø Expand the Operation Hero Miles Program to allow the donation of hotel points.
Ø Legally require the President of the United States to maintain strategic nuclear triad in defense of our Nation.
Ø The Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security will establish a coordination center for cyber security.
Ø The Department of Defense will submit a plan for normalizing relations with the Republic of Georgia.
Ø Extend the timeline for the submittal of claims under TRICARE for care provided outside of the United States.
Ø The Department of Defense will submit a report on the effect of anticipated end-strength reductions on its ability to accomplish our National Security Strategy.
Inhofe NDAA amendments that were not included:
In addition to the reduction in authorized funds for the nation's military, Inhofe also expressed disappointment that his following amendments to improve the legislation were not included in the bill. While almost 70 amendments, including three by Inhofe, were agreed to by Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain, they were ultimately removed during floor debate due to a technical dispute among other Senators.
Hearing Loss Report -- Expressed the Sense of the Congress that the Secretary of Defense should implement recommendations of the Comptroller General regarding prevention, abatement, and data collection to address hearing injuries and hearing loss among members of the Armed Forces.
Latvia Northern Distribution Network (NDN) -- Expressed the Sense of the Congress that all countries in the Northern Distribution Network line of supply to Afghanistan are important economic and security partners, and that successes from the 2010 local procurement conference in Riga, Latvia should be built upon.
Report on DOD Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) / Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Programs -- Required a report on eliminating gaps and redundancies between the over 200 programs within the Department of Defense that address psychological health and TBI.
Report on FAA Crew Rest Rule Changes: This amendment would have required a report by the Department of Defense on the effect of the proposed rule changes by the Federal Aviation Administration with respect to flightcrew member duty and rest requirements on the Department of Defense.
Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO): This amendment would have expressed the sense of the Senate that since JIEDDO has been successful protecting troops and attacking networks overseas, that they should be leveraged to assist in defeating the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) threat in the United States. This is the same organization working closely with Oklahoma's 45th Brigade Combat Team and all our military units to defeat the IED threat in Afghanistan and Iraq. JIEDDO already does assist other U.S. agencies through liaisons.
Acquisition Regulation Reform: This amendment would have required an assessment by DOD of the feasibility of standing up a commission to review and cut redundant and onerous defense acquisition regulations annually.
Revenue Sharing for Energy Development on Military Bases: This amendment would have allowed military bases to benefit from production of energy resources on their land by redirecting those funds to infrastructure on that base and to the state treasury.
C-12 Transfer: This Inhofe amendment would have stopped the transfer of MC-12W ISR aircraft from the Air Force to the Army, in keeping with the request of the Chiefs of Staffs of the Army and the Air Force.