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Mr. WITTMAN. I'd like to thank Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Smith for their leadership in moving H.R. 4310, the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, as it overwhelmingly passed the House Armed Services Committee.
The provisions of this bill aptly demonstrate our collective commitment to our Nation's heroes--the men and women of our armed services who sacrifice so much each and every day for all of us. I've seen their efforts firsthand, having the opportunity to travel five times to Afghanistan, and I recently had the opportunity to visit wounded warriors in Bethesda and Balboa. Each visit reinforces how much this Nation owes the members of our all-volunteer force. Against this backdrop, I have worked to ensure that decisions made in Congress fulfill the appropriate oversight role in taking care of our troops and veterans and securing our Nation's defense.
The bill before us today lives up to those solemn commitments. In particular, this bill blocks the proposed increase in TRICARE fees proposed by the administration. The administration's proposal places an unconscionable burden on our oldest and most vulnerable veterans by increasing their fees by 345 percent over a 10-year period. The bill recognizes our budgetary limits, but also keeps faith with America's veterans and servicemembers.
This bill ensures that as we consider transition in Afghanistan, we adequately understand associated risks. Based on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee findings, this bill calls for periodic assessments of the factors resulting in such trends and the effectiveness of transfer agreements we've negotiated with foreign countries. This bill, through an amendment, also requires an assessment focused on similar trends for the Parwan Detention Facility in Afghanistan.
Finally, this bill helps to preserve our Nation's maritime dominance by authorizing new construction of up to 10 destroyers and up to 10 submarines, as well as preventing early retirement of three cruisers. These assets will provide for our common defense, ensure we have the necessary resources for our strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific, and help to maintain a healthy shipbuilding industrial base.
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