Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 2647, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, by a vote of 389 to 22. 

 “I want to thank my House colleagues for their bipartisan support of the defense authorization bill.  This bill takes care of our nation’s defense priorities by restoring military readiness, providing our forces with the means to protect the American people, and demonstrating our commitment to service members and their families.

 “U.S. military readiness has been sorely tested by more than seven years of war and rebuilding readiness must be a top priority.  Toward this goal, the bill provides critical funding for Army and Marine Corps reset, addresses equipment shortfalls in the National Guard and Reserve, and provides the full amount needed to take care of our base facilities and infrastructure.  

 “To help reduce the strain on our forces, the bill increases the size of the military by 15,000 Army troops, 8,000 Marines, 14,650 Air Force personnel, and 2,477 Navy sailors. In support of our service members and recognizing 2009 as the Year of the Military Family, this bill provides a 3.4 percent pay increase, expands TRICARE health coverage for reserve component members, and dedicates significant funding to improve family housing. 

 “This defense authorization bill continues on our ongoing oversight of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, requiring regular reports to ensure that our strategies are effective and achieve the intended goals within well-defined timelines.  The measure also contains provisions to help Congress monitor our redeployment from Iraq and requires the Department of Defense to develop a detailed plan for the disposition of U.S. military equipment in Iraq.

 “This is an excellent bill and I want to thank the members of the House and particularly the members of the House Armed Services Committee for their efforts to make this the best bill possible for America’s national defense.  For our next step, we await the Senate’s action on the defense authorization bill and look forward to sending a first-rate defense bill to the President for his signature.”