Contact: Josh Holly; 202.226.3988
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee today lauded House passage of H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, by a strong bipartisan vote of 397-27.
H.R. 1585 authorizes $503.8 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Defense (DoD) and the national security programs of the Department of Energy. Additionally, the legislation authorizes $142 billion in supplemental funding to support current operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Global War on Terrorism.
Member statements follow:
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA): “This year’s defense authorization bill is good. It reflects our strong support for the brave men and women of the United States armed forces. It authorizes the President’s discretionary request of $503.8 billion for the Fiscal Year 2008 base budget of the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy.
“This amount provides for end-strength growth in both the Army and Marine Corps, continuing initiatives started several years ago by the Armed Services Committee: in fiscal year 2008 the Army would be authorized 525,400—13,000 more than authorized last year—and the Marine Corps would be authorized 189,000—9,000 more than last year. The bill also includes $142 billion to cover Fiscal Year 2008 war costs.
“Some of the initiatives in this legislation continue or build upon successful programs or reinforce good legislation that the House has already passed. For example, this legislation contains provisions that are essential to maintain a robust defense industrial base. Last year, the defense authorization bill tried to strike a fair balance between requiring the use of domestic specialty metals for our weapons systems and offering a waiver process in case sufficient metals are not available. H.R. 1585 establishes a formal rulemaking process for waivers that apply to multiple contracts to facilitate transparency and the gathering of broad industry input. In this way, the market will be able to respond to supply shortages, fostering investment in domestic industries.
“Other initiatives in this bill modify existing authorities or establish promising new programs and policies—such as adding $4.1 billion for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle.
“Separately, H.R. 1585 levels the playing field between U.S. companies and foreign countries with which we have free trade agreements. It rectifies a critical flaw in the U.S. Code that effectively penalizes U.S. companies for complying with U.S. law, while allowing foreign manufacturers to provide non-compliant components and systems.
“I am very grateful to Chairman Skelton (D-MO), Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ), Rep. John McHugh (R-NY), Rep. Terry Everett (R-AL), Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA) and all the members of the House for their hard work in approving of this important legislation. I’m especially appreciative of Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) and Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) for their efforts to add back funding for the Army’s modernization program and missile defense programs respectively.”
Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ): “H.R. 1585 reflects an objective of balancing the health and capability of the current force with the needs of future capability. Once again, this bill places force protection issues at the top of the priority list for Congress. By including $4.1 billion for Army and Marine Corps Mine Resistance Ambush Protected vehicles, we will ensure our forces in Iraq have the needed state-of-the-art equipment to defend against improvised explosive devices. Additionally, we take a step toward meeting our airlift needs by providing $2.4 billion for an additional ten C-17’s.
“As proud as I am of this legislation, I also recognize that this bill reflects a funding reduction of $867 million to the Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, a decrement that amounts to more than the cuts in the last three years combined. Modernization ensures the readiness of our future force and is a strategic necessity. I agree that the Army needs a higher top-line, but the Army’s funding crisis cannot be solved by making such large reductions to the FCS program. The Army must be allowed to invest in technologies and equipment that enable our most important asset—the soldier—to remain more effective than our adversaries, who are quickly adapting their methods, tactics, and tools of warfare.”
Rep. John McHugh (R-NY): “The passage of H.R. 1585, the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization Act, by the House recognizes that the success of the United States Military rests with our fighting men and women. H.R. 1585 contains many important programs and benefits they so richly deserve, including increases in end strength, which is something HASC has taken up and must continue to seek as embodied in this bill.
“Also among the bill’s many important provisions is the raise in basic pay that will continue the eight year effort to increase the pay of our men and women in uniform. At the same time we’re drawing down that pay gap between the civilian and military forces so that by 2012 it will be as little as 1.5%.
“I am also pleased that H.R. 1585 addresses military healthcare by extending for one year the prohibitions we enacted last year on increases to TRICARE cost shares and premiums and retail pharmacy cost share increases.
“This legislation was arrived at in a bipartisan, productive fashion and I am proud to have worked with my HASC colleagues to support our troops both at home and abroad.”
Rep. Terry Everett (R-AL): “While I support most of the provisions in this legislation, like many on my side of the aisle, I remain concerned about the topline cut levied on missile defense programs, especially when progress is being seen in so many of their programs. Now is not the time to further reduce funding, or slow down, the development and fielding of those missile defense elements that are critical to our nation’s defense and the protection of our deployed forces and allies. I understand the need to focus on near-term capabilities, but as we go through conference with the Senate, we need to work together to identify the right balance between investments in near-term systems and future capabilities.
“In the area of space, the legislation contains a provision I strongly support which places a priority on the protection of our space assets, and increases funding for space situational awareness and operationally responsive space capabilities. Consistent with previous bipartisan efforts to improve space acquisition, H.R. 1585 continues its emphasis on program execution. The bill reflects a measured approach to space acquisition that overlaps new modernization programs with continuing legacy programs.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD): “On balance, this is an excellent bipartisan bill that serves the immediate war-fighting needs as well as future challenges facing the men and women volunteers in our Armed Forces who serve our nation and the cause of peace throughout the world with selfless professionalism. It is a product of hard work and dedication by the leadership, Members and staff of the Armed Services Committee. I am particularly grateful for the continuing friendship and collaboration with Congressman Gene Taylor, Chairman of the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee. This bill promotes continuing measures to increase the capability and reduce shipbuilding costs to maintain America’s naval supremacy.
“We worked with Chairman Skelton, Ranking Member Hunter and our colleagues on the Air and Land Subcommittee to authorize the number one priority recommending $4.1 billion for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle to better protect soldiers and Marines from IED's that are the number one cause of injuries and deaths in Iraq.
“We put limitations on design and build concurrency and promoted the adoption of shipyard modernization to reduce factors that have contributed to cost increases in a number of programs. We addressed specific problems with LCS while ensuring continued competition between the two designs. With these changes, we authorize construction of eight ships. We took steps to reduce the vulnerability and manning requirements of the fleet’s logistical tail that is dependent upon oil by requiring nuclear propulsion for the next generation cruiser. We also recommend additional funding for long lead items and multi-year procurement authority to provide flexibility to accelerate construction of Virginia Class submarines to two per year. ”
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX): “There is much that is in this bill that is good; however, next week or the week thereafter, we are going to have another vote that could undercut the good that is in this bill by giving hope to our enemies and discouragement to our friends. We face a ruthless, determined, adaptable adversary who at this moment is concentrating their efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but poses a threat to us and our allies all over the world. Congress can not pat itself on the back for passing a pay raise for the troops one week, but then tie the hands of the commanders who are sent to implement the Nation's strategy the next week.”
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK): “I am pleased to see that once again the House has passed a comprehensive, bi-partisan defense authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2008. These funds will support a broad range of fundamental programs as well as national security activities that are vital for the safety of America. This bill will take care of our soldiers on the battlefield and back home by improving military health care, soldier's pay and benefits, and upgrading the living conditions for soldiers and their families. Our brave men and women in uniform deserve nothing less."
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA): “Providing for our nation’s defense is the foremost responsibilities of this body, and we must oppose any effort to shortchange our troops and our security. While I opposed portions of this legislation that cut funding to critical programs like missile defense and Army Future Combat Systems, overall I believe it is a good bill that will fund both the on-going War on Terror and our efforts to combat more traditional threats. I am relieved Congress focused on the needs of our warfighters, and defeated many amendments that simply pandered to the partisan issues which divide us.”
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ): “This bill does include many elements that are important for our defense. However, in this age of nuclear weapons, ballistic missile development, rampant missile proliferation, and jihadist terrorism, the Democrats still insisted on cutting $764 million for a robust and layered ballistic missile defense. I offered an amendment to restore these funds and it failed with 216 Democrats voting against it and 186 Republicans voting in support. This should not be a partisan issue; but it has clearly demonstrated to the American people where their Representatives stand on this issue.”
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA): “The House came together in a bipartisan fashion to authorize funding for safer vehicles for our ground forces and give our brave men and women in uniform a much needed pay raise. Although it isn’t perfect, this bill makes great strides towards honoring and equipping our troops. I’m proud to support it.”
Highlights of the bill include:
- An additional $142 billion in supplemental funding to support the Global War on Terrorism’s operational costs, personnel expenses and procurement of new equipment for Fiscal Year 2008.
- Additional funding for force protection needs in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, including $4.1 billion for state-of-the-art Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.
- Additional increases of 13,000 Army and 9,000 Marine Corps active duty personnel to sustain our required missions.
- A 3.5% pay raise for all members of the armed forces in 2008 and guaranteed pay raises in 2009, 2010 and 2011 to reduce the military-civilian pay disparity.
- $2.4 billion for an additional 10 C-17’s to support intra-theater airlift requirements and meet the airlift needs for the increased end strength in the Army and Marine Corps.
- An additional $1 billion for National Guard equipment.
- Extends the prohibition the committee enacted last year on increases to TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Standard.
- Extends the prohibition the committee enacted last year on retail pharmacy cost share increases.
- Provides $250 million to address training shortfalls throughout the services and adds $165 million for depot maintenance.
- Provides a stipend to partially compensate people for the SBP-DIC offset and begins providing combat-related special compensation to some medically retired military personnel with between 15 and 20 years of service.
- Authorizes capital expenditure investments for U.S. shipyards to be repaid through contract savings in order to improve shipyard efficiency, cost-effectiveness and international competitiveness and requires U.S. shipyards to certify they have attempted to recruit U.S. workers prior to hiring foreign nationals for the construction of U.S. Navy vessels.
- Prohibits the Department of Defense and defense contractors from procuring goods or services from a source owned or controlled by an entity sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State for violating the Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act (Public Law 106-178).