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Congressman Salazar Appointed to Department of Defense Conference Committee

Location: Washington, DC

December 16, 2005

Congressman Salazar Appointed to Department Of Defense Conference Committee

Congressman Salazar made the following remarks in a meeting of the Defense Authorization Conference Committee today. In appointing Salazar to the Conference Committee, Salazar's colleagues have recognized him as an advocate for our troops and as a leader in building bi-partisan coalitions.

As a Member of the House Transportation Committee, Salazar was involved in increasing the pay of Coast Guard forces serving in the Gulf Coast regions. Salazar also used this opportunity to correct the DOD's accounting error and guarantee the Pueblo Chemical Depot will receive much needed construction funds. Salazar is the only veteran from the Colorado delegation.

The House is expected to pass the bill this evening.


Congressman John T. Salazar
Department of Defense Authorization Conference Committee
December 16, 2005

"Thank you for the opportunity to represent our troops and the people of rural Colorado.

"The House Armed Services Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have worked well together in the past.

"The Committee is pleased that the Defense Authorization includes a 3.1% cost of living increase for our uniformed servicemen and women, including members of the United States Coast Guard.

"I appreciate the Committee's commitment to the brave men and women serving in the armed forces.

"This pay increase was extended to the Coast Guard personnel who went above and beyond the call of duty in their response to Katrina.

"Their efforts spared the lives of many thousands of stranded individuals in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast region.

"In addition to the issues under the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's jurisdiction, I would like to address a matter of interest to my constituents in Colorado's Third Congressional District.

"For well over half a century, the residents of Pueblo County have been good stewards of a dangerous stockpile of chemical weapons.

"These folks have worked for years to arrive at a decision with the Department of Defense regarding the neutralization and destruction of these weapons.

"With community input and technological innovation, 2,600 tons of mustard agent will be destroyed without the use of an incinerator.

"With that in mind, I would like to express my support for a section of the bill which makes a small, but crucial change for the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program.

"This section authorizes the use of up to $51 million of RDT&E money from the 2006 Defense Appropriations bill to be used for construction at both the Pueblo Chemical Depot and the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky.

"The Department of Defense has had difficulty in the past several years completing the design of the Pueblo facility.

"While we have seen progress towards breaking ground on the facility, the language contained in this authorization is critical for completing the work.

"If we are to even come close to meeting our treaty obligations regarding chemical weapons destruction, we must begin construction at the two ACWA facilities immediately.

"I would like to thank the Conference Committee for its acknowledgment of the need to destroy these weapons for the health and safety of my constituents in Pueblo, Colorado.

"This Defense Authorization makes a clear statement about the current and future state of the United States military. With the passage of this bill, we are renewing our commitment to protect the safety and security of our troops and the American public."

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