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Conference Report on H.R. 4310, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. DAVIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.

As the ranking member of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, I'm very pleased that this bill includes a number of provisions that continue our commitment to our men and women in uniform and their dedicated families. I want to thank my chairman, Joe Wilson, for his support and assistance, and recognize the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, and Adam Smith, the ranking member, for their leadership.

Here are a few highlights from the conference report.

There will be a 1.7 percent pay raise, a critically important recognition of what our servicemembers do for us, particularly during economically challenging times.

It provides separation authorities as the services reduce their end strength. These authorities will be crucial to the Department's ability to execute its drawdown in a responsible manner that ensures that long-serving members and their families are compensated appropriately.

We continue our focus on mental health by codifying the Suicide Prevention and Community Health and Response Program for the National Guard and Reserves. Additionally, the bill requires the Secretary of Defense to providing training on suicide prevention, resilience, and community health, and it expands the scope of providers who may conduct pre-administrative separation medical examinations for post-traumatic stress disorder to include licensed clinical social workers and psychiatric advanced practice registered nurses.

We all know sexual assault remains a focus for the Congress, and there are a number of provisions that help to address the problem, including prohibiting the granting of waivers for commissioning or enlistment of an individual who has been convicted of sexual offenses under Federal or State law, and it requires the services to establish special victim capabilities for investigation, prosecution, and victim support in connection with child abuse, serious domestic violence, or sexual offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The bill authorizes the Defense Department to establish transition assistance programs for members of the Guard and Reserve components who serve on active duty for more than 180 days, a program that previously did not exist.

And the bill provides female servicemembers and dependents with the same reproductive rights in cases of rape and incest that other women in Federal health plans can already exercise.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. LaTourette). The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

Mr. SMITH of Washington. I yield the gentlewoman an additional 30 seconds.

Mrs. DAVIS of California. I want to note, Mr. Speaker, that the bill continues to recognize the sacrifices of those who serve our Nation in uniform. During a time when many young Americans of all stripes--male and female, gay and straight, from every ethnic background conceivable--are forward deployed and all around the globe, we in the Congress have an obligation to ensure that these men and women are provided for. We must stand up to this important obligation. I urge all of my colleagues to support the bill.


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