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House Passes Iraq Funding Bill Includes Legislation Blackburn Supported to Raise Death Benefit Gratuity, Strengthen Immigration Laws

Location: Washington, DC

April 27, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to approve the Emergency Supplemental Wartime Appropriations Act Conference Report, H.R. 1268 by a bipartisan vote of 368 to 58.

The legislation contains $82 billion in defense related spending with primary focus on support for the global war on terror. More than $72 billion from this total supports military personnel and the operation and maintenance of their equipment. The supplemental includes a provision Blackburn supported to increase the military death gratuity benefit. On February 1, 2005, Blackburn introduced the Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers and Families Act of 2005, H.R. 447, to increase from $12,000 to $100,000 the death gratuity payable to the survivors of members of the Armed Forces who died while on active duty or inactive duty training. This increase was included in H.R. 1268.

The Real ID Act, a bill designed to prevent illegal aliens from obtaining valid drivers' licenses like those in the possession of September 11th terrorists was also included in H.R. 1268.

"We're engaged in a global war, and we've got to support our armed forces," Blackburn said. "Earlier this year I introduced a bill to increase the death benefit gratuity for the families of those who've given their life in service to this nation on the battlefield, and now that effort is on the way to becoming law. This is a victory for the families who need our support, and it's a testament to our deep appreciation for those responsible for preserving our freedom. It is impossible to have spent as much time as I have visiting Iraq, Afghanistan, and Fort Campbell and not come away completely inspired by the dedication and the sense of mission our U.S. military displays on a daily basis. They're incredible people and we hope this bill helps support their mission."

"Increasingly we're hearing from concerned constituents who believe the nation's borders are too porous and our immigration laws too lax," Blackburn added. "We've been working to ensure that illegal aliens cannot obtain valid drivers' licenses and use those IDs to further violate our laws. As a state senator I led the effort to ensure that Tennessee driver licenses were not available to illegal aliens, and I've worked to pass the Real ID Act in Congress. This bill will beef up our border security with additional funding for border control agents, but there is still much work to do on this issue."

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