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Providing for Further Consideration of H.R. 4310, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. AKIN. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013.

As chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, there are many aspects of this bill that are commendable. First of all, from a Navy point of view, we are maintaining the cadence of building two fast-attack boats every year. That has significant implications relative to our industrial base. Likewise, we are going to be building two destroyers a year, so we have made some changes to the President's budget there. We're also requiring that the Navy keeps at least 12 ballistic missile submarines that are an important leg of our triad.

I would also call attention to a couple of amendments that I have offered. The first is that we have worked with information that we've gotten from overseas on the evacuation procedures that are being done and the speed with which our sons and daughters are being picked up on the battlefield. There is nothing wrong with the great people who are working the medevacs. We are concerned with DOD policy, however--that that policy may be resulting in unnecessary delays.

Secondly, this bill contains an amendment that I offered to protect First Amendment rights of people in the service and chaplains, in particular. Unfortunately, it seems that this is against what the White House, many Democrats, and The New York Times all seem to want. The heart of the amendment is to say that if you are a chaplain, you are not going to be forced to perform ceremonies that you think are wrong. It protects what we call ``free speech,'' the First Amendment, and also the right of religious freedom. It does the same thing for our servicemembers.

And it seems ironic that there is opposition to affording First Amendment rights to our sons and daughters who are fighting for our First Amendment rights. So this seems like it should be very noncontroversial, allowing people to follow the dictates of their own conscience. But it seems to be meeting stiff resistance, nonetheless.

Lastly, I wanted to make sure that in this bill, we make absolutely clear that there's nothing in this bill which gets in the way of our habeas corpus rights in America and that no American citizen can be unlawfully detained, and that the right of habeas corpus, as a constitutional right, is in no way abridged by this bill.


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