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Conference Report on H.R. 1540, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. This legislation, which provides $662 billion in funding for fiscal year 2012, is not perfect but I will vote in favor of it for three principal reasons. First, it provides for troop and equipment readiness. Second, it provides much needed help and support for military families. Third, it authorizes critical investments in technology to ensure that the United States is prepared to defend against emerging threats now and in the future.

Mr. Speaker, it is of utmost importance that our troops deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world have the equipment, resources, authorities, training, and time needed to successfully complete their missions and return home. This bill does that.

H.R. 1540 also provides their families with the resources and support they need and deserve. Specifically, the bill provides for enlistment and reenlistment bonuses, retention and accession pay for critical skills, and hazardous duty pay. As my colleagues across both aisles would agree, it is our responsibility to ensure that our troops that have sacrificed for us receive the resources they need for success and the benefits they deserve.

Further, the bill recognizes the importance of investing in future capability and technology to meet emerging challenges on the battlefield of today and in the future. We live in an age in which the security challenges facing our nation are ever-evolving and increasing in technological sophistication and complexity. We must take the necessary steps to ensure that the United States stays in the forefront of technological advances and is equipped with vigorous capabilities in order to be able to successfully detect, deter, and defeat terrorist plots, cyber attacks, and other emerging threats. The bill before us will help us meet these challenges.

Let me briefly highlight some of the key provisions included in this legislation which I support: I. Troop and Equipment Readiness

1. Provides $22.8 billion for the training of all active-duty and reserve forces to increase readiness;

2. Authorizes $396.8 million for C-17 modernization;

3. Provides $6.3 billion to fund Navy ship and aircraft depot maintenance;

4. Provides $4.5 billion for Army and Marine Corps equipment reset and depot maintenance;

5. Provides $7.7 billion for Air Force weapon system sustainment;

6. Allocates just under $1 billion to support the Army's planned return to full-spectrum training; and

7. Provides $13 billion for Military Construction, base realignment and closures, and military family housing. II. Help for Military Families

1. Provides a 1.6 percent military pay raise

2. Ensures fair TRICARE premiums III. Investing in Future Technology

1. Extends important budget authorities to allow defense laboratories to recruit and retain the brightest scientists;

2. Expands developmental test and evaluation management for major defense acquisition programs;

3. Directs an assessment of mechanisms to employ non-U.S. citizens with critical scientific and technical skills; and

4. Expands pilot program for the integration of technology protection features during research and development to include contractor cost-sharing.

Mr. Speaker, I do not support the provisions in the bill regarding the treatment of detainees suspected of terrorism. I believe they are decidedly unhelpful and thus agree with the administration and those distinguished legal scholars who assert that mandatory military custody is ``undue and dangerous,'' and that these provisions would ``severely and recklessly undermine'' our Nation's counterterrorism efforts.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I support the NDAA for FY 2012 because it authorizes the needed investments to keep our nation safe and enhances our defense infrastructure, along with taking care of our military personnel, and authorizing continued funding for the C-17 air transport.

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