Senate Democrats

Reid: Democrats Pass Defense Authorization Bill To Honor And Care For Our Military And Their Families, Make America Safer

Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after the U.S. Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009:

“Democrats are sending the President a bill that honors our troops, and enhances our security, and ensures America’s military is strong and focused on the major threats to our nation.  Among other things, this sensible, bipartisan bill gives our men and women in uniform a pay raise, helps returning heroes afford a place to live or to go back to school, and funds efforts to defend America from weapons of mass destruction and chemical or biological attacks.

“Seven years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri remain on the loose and an independent study recently found that the United States remains ‘dangerously vulnerable’ to future terrorist attacks.  Democrats know that America will be more secure only once we responsibly end the war in Iraq and return to the real fight to defeat al Qaeda and the Taliban, which is why this critical Defense Authorization bill not only supports our troops and their families, but also takes a step toward a smarter war on terror.”

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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 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]

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]

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