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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 3 minutes.

I want to thank Chairman McKeon, the committee members, and the staff who, once again, did an outstanding bipartisan job in putting together this bill.

One of the paramount duties of our Congress is to provide for the common defense and, most importantly, make sure that our men and women who serve us in uniform have all the support they need to fulfill the missions that we ask them to do. I believe this bill meets that standard.

I thank the chairman for his willingness to work in a bipartisan fashion with me and my staff. I believe we have upheld the tradition of this committee and have shown that Congress can, in fact, work together to get things done, and I always appreciate that opportunity.

Most importantly, this bill prioritizes supporting the warfighter. We still have around 70,000 U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan fighting the war. We need to make sure they have the equipment and support they need to do that. I believe this bill meets that mission.

This bill also recognizes the threats we face and adequately funds the need to meet those threats, most importantly, the threat from terrorist and nonstate actors like al Qaeda and their affiliates. We have strong support for the Special Operations Command as well as for intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance to make sure that we can continue to defeat the terrorist networks that would threaten us. Those are the top priorities.

We also make sure that our troops get the 1.7 percent pay raise they need and get the support for both the individual troops and for their families that are necessary to continue to serve us. We must always remember that we have an all-volunteer military. We are dependent upon the willingness of people to volunteer. We must make sure that we honor that service. We have done that, and we have done it quite well, to the point where we have the finest military the world has ever seen, and the support from this Congress is critical to maintaining that.

While there is much in this bill that I think is excellent and that I support, I will note just one caution as we go forward: Our bill is $8 billion over the Budget Control Act. It is over what the Senate is going to mark up. At some point, we are going to have to rationalize that and figure out how to make our national security strategy and our defense budget work in an era where our budgets are coming down.

We have a sizable deficit, and I believe it's critical that we put together a strategic plan and plan for the future. It's not enough to go year by year. We don't want to wake up 2 or 3 years from now and find out that we've funded more programs than we can afford to complete. We need a strategic vision, and we're going to have to work to get to that number and get to that cooperation with the Senate.

I also want to emphasize the importance of an amendment that I plan to offer that would change how we handle indefinite detention in military custody. I do not believe the executive branch should have that power to indefinitely detain or place in military custody people captured or arrested here in the U.S. I believe the United States Constitution and our due process system provides plenty of protections. We have arrested and convicted over 400 terrorists using that system. We have not used the indefinite detention in military custody power given to the President, and we have been able to protect ourselves. It's important that we protect the Constitution and that amendment is ruled in order, so I would hope that the full House would pass it.

I am very pleased with the bill. Again, I thank the chairman for his outstanding work in making sure that this bill supports the men and women in uniform who so bravely serve us. I believe it meets that objective. And I appreciate working with Mr. McKeon, all of his staff, and all of the members of the committee.

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Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 minute.

There are no additional rights contained in this amendment. We have the rights that are in the Constitution that are the due process. The gentleman's comment that additional rights are being granted by this is patently false. The Constitution is clear. It provides all persons in the United States the same rights. All we are doing is going back to the Constitution and repealing the authority of the President to circumvent those rights and reduce them. That's a very critical point that we will talk further about tomorrow.

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