Congressman John Kline supported the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), bipartisan legislation that serves as the annual budgetary blueprint for the Pentagon, which today passed the U.S. House of Representatives 283-136.
"It is an honor and a privilege to play a direct role in crafting and passing legislation that supports our troops, veterans and their families," said Kline, a 25-year veteran of the Marine Corps whose son has served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. "This bipartisan legislation ensures we keep our promises made to our veterans of today and tomorrow and provides our sons and daughters in uniform the resources they need to defend freedom and keep us safe."
Kline, who was appointed to the bipartisan, bicameral conference committee responsible for reconciling differences between House and Senate versions of the bill, ensured a nationwide expansion of the Minnesota National Guard's "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" reintegration program was included in the NDAA. Also included in the bill was his provision to eliminate the Armed Forces' use of quotas that unfairly discriminate against aspiring military recruits who earn a high school diploma from nontraditional sources, including charter schools, online schools, and home schools. Kline's legislation ensures fair recruiting and selection policies for enlistments are in step with evolving education opportunities.
The NDAA Conference Report also clarified provisions related to treatment of detainees, including:
Affirming that the military may lawfully detain individuals who are engaged in armed conflict with the United States, as stated by the long-standing Authorization of the Use of Military Force.
Establishing a new requirement for military custody for foreign individuals who are part of or provide substantial support to Al Qaeda or associated forces AND have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
Facilitating greater intelligence gathering from foreign terrorists while explicitly exempting U.S. citizens.
"I remain firm in my commitment to a strong national defense and upholding our Constitution, and I will not support any measure that infringes on the liberties of American citizens," said Kline. "No provision within the final version of the NDAA expands the President's authority to detain United States citizens."
The NDAA also does not include earmarks. "Minnesotans are tightening their belts and continuing to do more with less, and they are demanding Washington to do the same. The Pentagon is not immune from that expectation," said Kline. "This legislation makes the tough choices required to provide the equipment, resources, and support our military personnel need to do their jobs as effectively as possible while wisely stewarding taxpayer resources."
In his fifth term, Kline serves on the House Armed Services Committee. He is also the Chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee.