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Manchin Defense Measures Cut Wasteful Contracting, Protect Veterans' Benefits and Get Troops Out of Afghanistan

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

With bipartisan passage, Manchin scores major legislative success with 9 amendments that maintain a strong defense while cutting costs

Manchin also offers measure to honor General Chuck Yeager with a second star and strengthen the Guard

Washington, D.C. -- As the annual defense authorization bill passed with broad bipartisan support, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) scored legislative victories by authoring nine amendments that will strengthen the military by cutting costs, taking care of service members and giving the National Guard appropriate resources. Significant provisions from the Coburn-Manchin "Audit the Pentagon" Act were also included.

Senator Manchin also offered amendments to honor West Virginia legend General Chuck Yeager with a second star and to strengthen the National Guard.

Senator Manchin is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is responsible for writing the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill sets the budget and expenditures for the nation's military. Senator Manchin successfully authored nine amendments to the bill, and cosponsored an additional six that were included in the bill. The bill passed today 98-0.

In addition to Senator Manchin's amendments, the bill will promote better oversight of all Department of Defense programs and contracting, ensure that U.S. expenditures in Afghanistan are more closely monitored, prevent new domestic base closures in the coming years, and improve the quality of life of service members, their families and military retirees. The defense bill also prevents health care fee increases, which is important for military retirees in West Virginia.

"Keeping the most powerful military in the world is one of our most critical priorities, and we must do that by cutting fat, not muscle from the Defense Department," Senator Manchin said. "To the people of West Virginia, it doesn't make any sense that taxpayers are paying some contractors twice as much as we pay the Commander-in-Chief of our great nation -- especially when we're looking at cuts to the men and women in uniform. We have to be smart about how we use our resources, and the bottom line is that those who have served this country deserve the best in return."

Since joining the Senate, Senator Manchin has pushed hard to maintain a strong defense while reducing unnecessary costs. Senator Manchin's provision reduces contractors' salaries is a commonsense measure that will keep our military the best in the world.

The amendment -- Rein in the Cost of Government Contracting -- corrects the unfairness in contractor compensation, where the highest paid contractors in the country currently receive about $770,000 in taxpayer funding. By contrast, the Secretary of Defense makes $199,000 a year and the Commander-in-Chief's salary is $400,000. The Vice President earns $230,700. Army privates earn, on average, $20,000 a year. Senator Manchin's amendment limits taxpayer-funded contractor salaries to $230,700, and no more.

Senator Manchin also advocated to protect the National Guard. He offered an amendment to prevent cuts to training facilities that use C-23 Sherpas, which are used in combat zones and domestic relief missions -- most recently in Hurricane Sandy. Although this measure did not make it into the Senate bill, Senator Manchin will fight to include the measure in the final bill.

"Senator Manchin clearly understands the importance of the C-23 Sherpa to the National Guard," said Major General James A. Hoyer, the West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General. "This weapon system is valuable not only with regard to the global war fight; but, also in support of Homeland Defense and local emergency response. It has proven it's value time and again, and was exceptionally effective during the National Guard's recent response to Hurricane Sandy."

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