U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Thursday voted in favor of the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets priorities for military spending for the coming year. The bill was approved by the Senate unanimously.
"This bill helps provide for the needs of our military personnel serving around the world," said Wicker, who serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower. "We have many continuing threats abroad, and the budget constraints we face at home are a significant challenge. This bill passed because of bipartisan cooperation. It should serve as a reminder that we can work together to achieve solutions to our problems. With less than four weeks to go before sequestration's across-the-board reductions to our military, the President and Congress need to replace the dangerous defense cuts and avert the fiscal cliff."
The Defense Authorization Bill, S. 3294, authorizes $631.4 billion for national defense programs, including $88.5 billion in overseas contingency operations, which funds the war in Afghanistan. The legislation also promotes proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars by requiring the Secretary of Defense to implement a plan to reduce the size of the Defense Department's civilian bureaucracy commensurate with the legislation's five percent reduction in active-duty military service members.
Wicker was successful in adding a bipartisan amendment to recognize the success of Israel's Iron Dome missile shield system. Earlier this year, the Iron Dome was used to destroy rockets fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, which were aimed at Israeli population centers. More information on that amendment can be found here.
During the Committee debate, Wicker supported several parts of the bill that remain in the Senate-passed version, including:
* a provision that freezes the Air Force's proposed move of C-130 aircraft at Keesler AFB and the divestment of C-27Js at Key Field, Meridian, for one year;
* an amendment to ensure military construction projects avoid unnecessary costs related to third party environmental-efficient building standards through increased transparency; and
* the multiyear procurement of the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class destroyers which are built by Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula.