This was an important week in Washington for legislation affecting our service members and Veterans. The House Armed Services Committee, which I serve on, debated the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. I'm proud to say that several important legislative proposals of mine were accepted into the final version of the bill, including:
1) Key provisions of my legislation, the Troop Talent Act, which will make it easier for service members to earn the credentials they need to transition to private sector employment.
2) Measures to prevent sexual assault in the military and limit the authority of commanders in overturning convictions in sexual assault cases.
3) An amendment to cut wasteful spending by eliminating unnecessary duplication of military uniforms.
4) Stronger oversight and transparency measures to hold contractors accountable for spending taxpayer dollars. One such amendment would withhold funding for Stryker vehicles until the Army uses the current $900 million stockpile of Stryker vehicle parts. We should not be purchasing new parts for new vehicles until we have used what we've already bought.
I also introduced an amendment to withhold funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter until its software testing is successfully completed. There are already multiple technical problems with the program. We should not be spending $6 billion taxpayer dollars on any new F-35s until these problems are resolved. Unfortunately, this amendment was not passed, but I will continue to advocate for greater oversight and accountability in our defense spending.
Congress also voted this week on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which has several important provisions for Veterans, including solutions to VA backlog, assistance for victims of sexual assault and increased funding for Department of Veterans Affairs.
After signing onto letters and co-sponsoring legislation on this issue, I was happy to hear this week that the Transportation Security Administration has listened to me and my colleagues and reversed its decision to allow knives on planes.
I met with Jessica Cox, a fellow disabled pilot, this week. We discussed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - and of course, we talked about flying. I also met with small business owners from Carol Stream and Itsasca, a pharmacist from Roselle, and I spoke with representatives from Metra about expanding service in the suburbs. Now I'm ready to head home to the district this weekend!