Senate Democrats

Senate Democrats Join Together to Support Our Troops

Senators call on Senate to take action on the National Defense Authorization Act

Washington, DC - Today, Senators Harry Reid, Carl Levin, Ted Kennedy, Jack Reed, Debbie Stabenow, Mark Dayton and Mark Pryor joined together to show how Democrats are working to support our troops and military families. Democrats believe it is time to put partisan politics aside and focus on the issues that really matter for American families and particularly for our troops and their loved ones. Senate Democrats believe we should be working on the bipartisan FY2006 National Defense Authorization Act, critical national security legislation to support our troops and their families.

“Republican Congressional leaders continue to reveal their misplaced priorities,” said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “Democrats believe it’s time Congress gets its priorities straight and puts our troops ahead of politics. Every day we focus the Senate on the political goals of the Republican Party is a day the Senate is not taking action to ensure that our soldiers receive the pay raises, equipment, and increased health benefits they need and deserve. That’s just wrong.”

“The Armed Services Committee worked on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill that provides much-needed funding for ongoing military operations, continues the modernization of our armed forces, and improves the quality of life for our service members and their families,” said Senator Levin, Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee. “I’m hopeful that the full Senate will take up this bill in that same cooperative spirit.”

Democrats are calling for the Senate to act on the $600 million in new funds devoted to combating terrorism. Democrats also want to pass the $1.4 billion authorization on top of the President’s request for new force protection gear for our soldiers, and $171 million for up-armored high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles.

“Our troops deserve better than open-ended commitments and misplaced priorities at home. We’ve spent endless hours, dozens of days, and too many weeks debating radical judges and Republican attempts to abuse power,” said Senator Kennedy (D-MA). “Meanwhile, look what’s happening to the strength and security of this country. Our military forces are protecting America amidst a growing insurgency and increasingly dangerous conditions. No more delays and excuses: We need to protect our troops and do what¹s right for all Americans.”

Democrats also believe our military families need urgent care. Democrats want over $100 billion for military personnel, including costs of pay, allowances, bonuses, death benefits and permanent change of station moves. Democrats believe our uniformed service personnel deserve an across the board pay raise and an increase in the death gratuity to $100,000 for survivors of military members whose deaths were combat related. Democrats also want to increase TRICARE health benefits for the children of survivors, as our military families deserve better healthcare.

“The Army is facing many critical issues including equipment shortages, extended and expanded troop rotations and recruitment and retention shortages. Instead of working to address these vital issues the majority leadership has decided to continue to debate radical judges,” said Senator Jack Reed (D-RI). “Congress must work to ensure that our military has the proper troop level and equipment, and I urge the Republican leadership to reorganize its priorities on the Senate floor.”

“Congress needs to get back to the business of protecting our nation by moving forward on the Defense Authorization bill,” said Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN). “This bill will increase the pay and benefits for our men and women in uniform, who are serving so valiantly, and will ensure that our troops receive the best training and equipment available.”

“I am pleased that we were able to avert a nuclear showdown in the Senate, but now it is time to get back to work. I believe there is no better place to start than with the Defense Authorization Bill,” said Senator Pryor (D-AR). “We’ve all made a promise to our servicemen and women that while their away protecting us; we would be in Washington protecting them and their families. We should not let partisan judicial politics stop us from keeping that promise.”

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SENATE DEMOCRATS SEEK TO KEEP AMERICA STRONG AND SUPPORT OUR TROOPS

While the Republican majority has decided to spend several weeks focused on confirming several radical judges, Senate Democrats believe we should be working on the FY2006 National Defense Authorization Act, critical national security legislation to support for our troops and their families. While in the middle of a war on terror and a costly war in Iraq, Democrats believe the Senate’s time would be better spent focused on strengthening our military and providing our troops with the resources and equipment they need to keep America strong.

DEMOCRATS WANT TO KEEP AMERICA STRONG:

Democrats want to debate and pass the Defense Authorization bill, which contains key provisions to support our troops and their families. Without passage of this authorization bill, key support for our troops would not be available. The bill contains:

Over $1 billion to counter terrorism and secure weapons of mass destruction.

$1.4 Billion over the President’s request for force protection gear for service members, including $171 million for up-armored high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles.

Over $100 billion for military personnel, including pay, allowances, bonuses, death benefits and permanent change of station expenses including key increases that will expire this year.

An increase of the death gratuity to $100,000 for survivors of military members whose deaths were combat-related.

Increased TRICARE health benefits for children of survivors.

Authority for the Navy and the Air Force to adjust their personnel levels so they will not be forced to cut critical programs to pay for more personnel than they planned for.

More than $5.3 billion in military construction and family housing projects that will not be able to proceed if this bill is not enacted.

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