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Udall Statement on Vote for National Defense Bill

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Today, Mark Udall joined the Senate in voting for the National Defense Authorization Act, which is now headed to the president's desk. A member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, Udall issued the following statement:

"The National Defense Authorization Act is critically important for our armed forces and for Colorado, and I support the vast majority of what this bill does. Among other things, it contains important legislation I authored or co-sponsored, including measures to increase the military's use of alternative energy and sanctions on Iran.

"I remain extremely troubled by two provisions in the bill related to detention - sections 1021 and 1022. These provisions could be interpreted to allow the indefinite detention without trial of U.S. citizens. And these provisions could simultaneously impede terror investigations by limiting the flexibility of our national security professionals to make decisions about the best way to interrogate and prosecute terrorists. I fought against these provisions during the committee debate, on the floor of the Senate and as a member of the Senate-House conference committee on this bill.

"I appreciate that senators Levin and McCain heard the concerns I raised - concerns echoed by the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and the directors of the FBI and CIA. Changes have been made to reduce the harm those provisions would do to national security. Those changes alleviate some, but not all, of my concerns. Therefore, when signing the conference report earlier this week, I explicitly stated that I do not support the detention provisions, sections 1021 and 1022.

"As these provisions are implemented over the coming months and years, I intend to hold accountable this administration and any future administration. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will also push the Congress to conduct the maximum amount of oversight possible as it relates to these provisions. If these provisions are implemented in a way that harms national security or infringes on the constitutional rights of Americans, I will be the first to demand hearings and changes to the law."

Udall pushed to add the following provisions and amendments to the FY12 NDAA:

ENERGY SECURITY

Udall fought to include in the NDAA portions of his Department of Defense Energy Security Act (DODESA), on which he worked with Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The five provisions included in the FY12 NDAA would:

Authorize the Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP), which provides critical funding for novel and forward-thinking energy efficiency investments that provide significant annual cost-savings to the DOD.
Require energy metering data to be captured and tracked at DOD facilities to help it fully utilize the information and make well-informed decisions in managing energy use and saving taxpayer dollars.
Set interim renewable electricity standards (RES) goals to keep DOD accountable and ensure it attains those goals on time and in full.
Identify energy-efficient products and technologies for use in DOD facilities, such as "direct-use solar technology."

Help enhance cyber security on military installations to better respond in the event of failure or extended disruption in the commercial power grid.
UDALL: "The Department of Defense is one of the largest consumers of fossil fuel in the world. Our military's reliance on fossil fuel puts our nation - and our troops - at risk. Pentagon leaders want to move toward renewable energy to save lives and make the military more nimble, and these provisions will help them get on track to do that."

IRAN SANCTIONS

Udall co-sponsored a bipartisan amendment that would bar foreign financial institutions doing business with Iran's Central Bank from operating in the United States. The amendment would also require the president to initiate a "multilateral diplomacy initiative" aimed at convincing other countries to stop purchasing oil from Iran. The sanctions aim to prevent Iran from moving forward with its nuclear weapons program.

UDALL: "We must continue to push Iran to act responsibly. This amendment takes an important step in that direction by sanctioning Iran's Central Bank, which facilitates Iran's oil exports and provides key support to its nuclear program and terrorist activities. This amendment also seeks to prevent the potential disruption of global oil markets by implementing sanctions gradually and allowing a presidential waiver if it is determined that there is not enough non-Iranian oil supply in the market. We must be smart about applying sanctions, but we must also make clear to Iran that its behavior will not be tolerated."

NATIONAL GUARD EMPOWERMENT

Udall co-sponsored an amendment that makes the Chief of the National Guard Bureau a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, elevates the Vice Chief of the Guard Bureau to a three-star billet, enhances the Guard's representation at the senior levels of U.S. Northern Command, and helps clarify the disaster response command relationship among the Guard and the U.S. military commands.

UDALL: "The members of the National Guard are a vital part of our military at home and at war, and the leadership of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should reflect that fact. Over the past 10 years of war, Guard members served multiple tours overseas without question or complaint. We owe them a voice in critical national security decisions."

SPURRING HELP FOR SERVICE MEMBERS' PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH

Udall pushed for a provision to urge the Defense Department to speed research and authorization of Traumatic Brain Injury treatments for service members. The provision would shift the management of Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury to one of the service branches with a better understanding of TBI and the needs of wounded troops, allowing for faster processing and treatment.

UDALL: "Many of our troops are coming home with hidden wounds of war in numbers that are overwhelming for the support systems in place for our service members. We need to find better ways to make sure our veterans who suffer from problems like PTSD and TBI can get the care they need and deserve."


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