PROVIDING FOR OUR ARMED FORCES
Daniel Webster once said, "God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to guard and defend it." These words appropriately describe our brave men and women in uniform who have put their lives on the line for our nation. They serve on aircraft carriers in distant oceans, keep the peace on volatile borders, patrol the skies of international hot spots, and their work is difficult, lonely, and often very dangerous. Theirs is a service marked by humility and born of a love of country, and is of the utmost importance in preserving the very freedoms that we hold dear.
Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives took steps to ensure that these courageous men and women have the resources they need to carry out their important missions. We overwhelmingly passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which addresses the key priorities necessary to fight the Global War on Terrorism and reflects our top priority: our men and women in uniform.
This strong, bipartisan legislation provides a 3.9% across the board pay increase for all service members. It also prevents a proposed increase in costs to participants of the military health care program, also known as TRICARE, and creates new preventive health care initiatives for service members and their families.
Additionally, this legislation ensures that our men and women in uniform have the necessary equipment, weapons and training to complete their missions. The funds authorized by this bill will be used to train U.S. forces, purchase protective gear and spare parts, repair older equipment, and transport equipment and personnel around the world. Perhaps most importantly, the National Defense Authorization Act continues to provide for improved capabilities to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs), a top priority for our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The legislation includes funding for state-of-the-art Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles (MRAP), up-armored Humvees, necessary upgrades to many of our important military vehicles and new barracks for our service members.
The National Defense Authorization Act also recognizes the critical contributing role of our National Guard and Reserve and includes critical funding for modernization and equipment programs.
Today our troops continue to battle the foes of democracy and freedom in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. I commend the valor and courage of our troops who bravely step into unfamiliar territory against sometimes unseen enemies to protect millions of Americans and others they may never meet. It is fitting to honor these great lives of service and I am pleased the House of Representatives worked together in a bipartisan fashion to pass the National Defense Authorization Act which provides the necessary resources to keep the U.S. military ready to overcome any challenge.