Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after Senate Republicans blocked the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009:
“As has been their hallmark this Congress, Bush-McCain Republicans have once again run away from an important debate, failing to back up their words with action. Despite their strong rhetoric on supporting our troops, they have refused to give them a well-deserved pay raise, denied our troops mine-resistant vehicles to keep them safe and said no to ensuring our servicemen and -women get the health care they need.
“It is this kind of misplaced priorities that is making America less secure. Our military readiness is down, Afghanistan is slipping further into violence, Pakistan remains in crisis, and Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri are still on the loose nearly seven years after 9/11. The Iraq war is not only costly, but President Bush and John McCain have provided no plan for responsibly ending the war and returning to the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.
“Republicans’ rejection of this vital bill is indefensible. It shows a lack of support for our troops and underscores how desperately America needs more Senators committed to change.”
DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL PROVIDES FOR OUR TROOPS
Defense Authorization Bill Provides a 3.9 Percent Pay Raise for Military Personnel. The bill authorizes a 3.9 percent across-the-board pay raise for military personnel. President Bush had requested a 3.5 percent pay raise. It also authorizes various bonuses and special payments. [CQ Bill Analysis of S. 3001]
Defense Authorization Bill Increases the Size of the Army, Marine Corps, Army National Guard and Army Reserves. The bill authorizes FY2009 active-duty end strengths for the Army and Marine Corps of 532,400 and 194,000, respectively, an increase of 7,000 soldiers and 5,000 marines from 2008 authorized levels. The bill also authorizes an increase of 3,371 full-time personnel for the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. [Senate Armed Services Committee Press Release, 5/1/08]
Defense Authorization Bill Provides $26 Billion for Military Health Care. The bill authorizes over $26 billion for the Defense Health Program. It also covers $1.2 billion in expenses in lieu of a Bush proposal to raise TRICARE fees. [Senate Armed Services Committee Press Release, 5/1/08]
Defense Authorization Bill Requires Continued Implementation of the Wounded Warrior Initiatives. The bill requires the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs to continue the operations of the Senior Oversight Committee to oversee implementation of Wounded Warrior initiatives. [Senate Armed Services Committee Press Release, 5/1/08]
Defense Authorization Bill Provides $3 Billion to Defeat the Threat of IEDs. The bill provides $3 billion in funding to support the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization’s ongoing efforts to attack the IED network, train deploying units, and procure the counter IED equipment necessary to defeat the threat. [Senate Armed Services Committee Press Release, 5/1/08]
Defense Authorization Bill Fully Funds the Readiness and Depot Maintenance Programs to Ensure the Readiness of Forces Preparing to Deploy. The bill fully funds Army readiness and depot maintenance programs to ensure that forces preparing to deploy are trained and their equipment is ready. [Senate Armed Services Committee Press Release, 5/1/08]
Defense Authorization Bill Bars Contractors from Conducting Interrogations. The bill bars contract employees from conducting interrogations, starting a year after enactment of the bill blocks spending for the establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq. It also bars the Department of Defense from using funds for major reconstruction work in Iraq and calls on the Iraqi’s to start paying some of its own military expenses. [CQ Bill Analysis of S. 3001]