U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), highlighted the U.S. Senate's completion of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13). The 51st consecutive NDAA version includes several legislative measures that were either authored or supported by Inhofe.
"My top priority in Congress is to maintain a strong national defense," said Inhofe. "I commend my colleagues in the Senate for their consistent efforts to complete this important piece of legislation, marking 51 consecutive years of authorizations for the Department of Defense. However, this bill, and its associated appropriations bills, should have been completed and signed into law by September. Every day we delay impacts our service members, our defense industry and our national defense. We must conference this bill immediately with the House, pass the final conference bill and have the President sign it into law. I also urged both Appropriations Committees to pass the defense appropriations bills before the end of the year."
Inhofe pointed to several positive items in the defense authorization bill saying, "This bill includes many amendments that will make a positive impact. The bill supports the maintenance and viability of our nuclear triad, includes enhanced sanctions against Iran, grants Senate authority to review and approve bilateral security agreements with Afghanistan, continues funding for critical missile defense system, including the highly successful Iron Dome system, for Israel that has performed so well during recent attacks. This bill also authorizes no increases in TRICARE fees for FY13, it prevents a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round for both 2013 and 2015, and it retroactively fixes the Depot language problems from last year's bill. Finally, it authorizes a 1.7 percent across the board pay raise for service members.
"I continued to support protecting the Constitutional Rights of U.S. citizens, voting for the Feinstein amendment that restates strong, constitutional protections for United States citizens without altering current, congressionally authorized war-time powers. I also cosponsored the Ayotte amendment that continues Congress' strong bipartisan position that terrorist detainees should not be transferred to American soil where they would be afforded legal rights reserved for our citizens -- not meant for enemy combatants. There are also serious cost and security concerns with any such transfer. Despite a veto threat from President Obama who is obsessed with closing GITMO, the Senate continued the legal prohibition of transferring terrorist detainees from GITMO to the US. GITMO continues to meet and exceed the highest international standards and is a fundamental part of protecting our deployed service members and citizens at home from the threat of terrorism. There is no superior alternative to GITMO.
"While I am very pleased that the bill includes many important provisions that will directly benefit our nation's military as well as Oklahoma's military installations, I am extremely disappointed that two key spending provisions were stripped out of the bill. Back in May, the committee passed bipartisan measures to prevent the Obama administration from wasting limited defense funds on pushing their liberal green agenda. With our nation's military already on a severely reduced budget, it's imperative that Department of Defense (DOD) funds are spent on military readiness and mission requirements. My amendment would have allowed the continued use of DOD funding of biofuels for testing but precluded DOD from buying biofuels using operations and maintenance funds if the price is not competitive with fossil fuels. Another measure would have prohibited the DOD from entering into a contract to plan, design, refurbish, or construct a biofuels refinery or any other facility or infrastructure used to refine biofuels unless specifically authorized by Congress. Both provisions would have restored fiscal responsibility and accountability for DOD spending at a time when our nation simply cannot afford to waste taxpayer funds on speculative green initiatives like Solyndra and dozens of other companies that are floundering or bankrupt despite billions in government investment. I pledge to continue working with my colleagues to ensure that the limited funds are properly utilized and do not severely impact military training, readiness, and our national security.
"As we have seen, many threats exist in the world today, and we should maintain force levels that allow us to continue the ability to fight two wars simultaneously should that be necessary. Instead, we are continuing to ask our Armed Forces to do more with less, when they are already stretched too thin. I continue to question the force structure cuts that are included in this bill as a result of the already planned reductions in spending. We must work to make sure our men and women are provided the resources they need to defend this nation."