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Conference Report on H.R. 1540, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, I will vote for H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, because it contains a number of important advancements. I am extremely disappointed, however, that we were unable to achieve more in our effort to change U.S. policy on the treatment of detainees.

H.R. 1540 contains a number of areas of progress, including a pay increase for our troops, important new protections for military personnel who are victims of sexual assault, concrete requirements for the Department of Defense to strengthen its audit-readiness, and increased cooperation with Israel on ballistic missile defense. In addition, it contains the toughest sanctions yet on the Central Bank of Iran to pressure the Iranian regime from continuing its pursuit of nuclear weapons. And, it blunts the defense spending increases of past years with significant cuts that are consistent with the end of the war in Iraq and the winding down of our involvement in Afghanistan.

When the House first considered H.R. 1540 earlier this year, I voted against it because of its misguided language on detainees. The bill's provision for military detention of American citizens was simply antithetical to American values. I joined with nearly three dozen Members of Congress in urging that the language on detainees be removed from the final version of the legislation.
I commend President Obama for insisting on a number of improvements, including a prohibition on military detention of U.S. citizens and lawful residents, the removal of language that would have banned the use of civilian courts to prosecute Qaeda suspects, and the elimination of language that would have provided an expanded authorization for the use of military force.

For these reasons I will vote for H.R. 1540. I will closely monitor the law's implementation, however, and press for further changes that are needed to protect our civil liberties and the rule of law, which Americans have fought to preserve at such great cost.

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