NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006 -- (House of Representatives - May 25, 2005)
Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this Defense Authorization Act because I believe it provides the critical items necessary for our forces arrayed in Afghanistan and Iraq and around the world. I also support the recognition of the pay necessities that confront our people and gives them a raise.
In addition, it provides increases in enlistment bonuses obviously necessary, hazardous duty, and other special pay to improve recruiting and retention, and funding for a number of key modernization priorities that will ensure that our military remains the best-equipped fighting force in the world for decades to come.
I believe many Democrats will vote for this legislation because we are committed to providing our troops with every resource necessary to succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan and anywhere else the call to defend freedom takes our men and women in the military.
However, this measure is by no means perfect. First, I would say I was disturbed by the rule. I was particularly disturbed, Mr. Chairman, that the amendment offered by the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Spratt), one of the most substantive amendments that was offered, was not allowed by the Committee on Rules. I think it is a shame that we did not have a full debate on the Spratt amendment dealing with proliferation. In fact, Mr. Chairman, it highlights the Republican Party's inability to move past the threats of the Cold War to the threats posed by global terrorism and have a full debate on the ramifications of that.
Specifically, this bill underfunds the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which has helped to keep unsecured weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union out of the hands of terrorists. This is the gravest threat that our Nation faces; yet, funding for the Cooperative Threat Reduction program barely keeps pace with inflation, even though the 9/11 Commission urged that it be expanded. At the very same time, this bill provides billions of dollars for a national missile system that moves forward the process of developing new nuclear weapons. Neither of these priorities helps to protect the American people from a future terrorist attack.
As I said, Mr. Chairman, I will vote for this bill, but it is a shame that we will not have a fuller, effective debate on the grave policies that this bill deals with or fails to deal with.