Defense Authorization Reflects Strong Commitment to Military Personnel and Military Families
Washington, D.C. – With 2009 the year of the military family, Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn. – 3) praised the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2010 (H.R. 2647) for its strong support of military personnel and their families. In addition, to increasing pay for our service members, investing in family housing programs, and making it easier for family members to visit wounded service members in the hospital, the legislation gives our military the tools it needs to fight the wars of today and tomorrow and eliminates waste, fraud and abuse in the contracting process.
The bill authorizes $550.4 billion in budget authority for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy, as well as $130 billion to support overseas contingency operations during fiscal year 2010.
“Day in and day out our service men and women and their families show their commitment to this nation. With this Defense Authorization bill we demonstrate our recognition of their dedication and our responsibility to meet their needs, and importantly, the needs of their families. In addition to making critical investments today in our military’s future, we are ensuring that they have the resources, equipment and support they need to do their jobs,” said DeLauro.
Additionally, during the debate over the bill, the House of Representatives adopted a DeLauro amendment to the bill to create a post-deployment mental health screening program.
Key investments in the Defense Appropriations bill keep our commitments to our troops and their families:
2009 Is The Year Of The Military Family: The bill includes $2.1 billion to increase funding for family support programs – $263 million over 2009.
• Service Members Pay and Benefits: Authorizes a pay raise of 3.4% – 0.5% increase above the budget request –further reducing the gap in pay increases between the uniformed services and the private sector to 2.4%; extends the temporary increase in the maximum number of leave days a service member may accumulate and carryover from one year to the next; and limits the collection of pay and allowance overpayments that result from administrative error.
• Assistance with Healthcare: requires a medical examination before a service member who has been deployed overseas in support of a contingency operation and diagnosed with either PTSD or TBI, can be involuntarily separated under other than honorable conditions; authorizes service members to designate three persons, including people that are not family members, to be provided transportation during any two month period to visit them while they’re hospitalized and for seriously injured service members who must travel for treatment, travel benefits are authorized so they may have a non-medical attendant assist them with the trip; and establishes a monthly compensation allowance for members with combat related catastrophic injuries or illnesses so they can receive assistance with the daily activities of life from a non-medical attendant.
• Helping Our Military Families: establishes an internship pilot program for military spouses to obtain employment with federal agencies to provide them with career opportunities that are portable as they move from station to station; provides $1.95 billion for family housing programs, which help support and expand quality housing for all service members and their families.
Preparing Our Troops For Today’s Conflicts And Tomorrow’s Challenges • Adds $395 million to fill the Navy’s top unfunded requirement: $200 million for deferred maintenance for Navy ships and $195 million for Navy aviation depot maintenance; • Includes $176 million to refill and maintain our nation’s prepositioned stocks in order to help us prepare for any future contingencies; • Provides $4.7 billion for training opportunities for the Army; • Authorizes $11 billion for Army reset and $2 billion for Marine Corps reset; • Adds $450 million for Army barracks improvements and $440 million to support National Guard and Reserve military construction projects; and • Adds $600 million, for a total of $6.9 billion, to address equipment shortfalls in the National Guard and Reserves.
U.S. Forces Readiness Evaluation: The bill directs GAO to review DOD’s approach to balancing the dueling requirements of troop deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan with training needs of troops back home.
Afghanistan – Pakistan Strategy DeLauro voted in favor of an amendment to require the Defense Secretary to report to Congress, not later than December 31, 2009, on an exit strategy for U.S. military forces in Afghanistan participating in Operation Enduring Freedom. The amendment failed.
Additionally, the National Defense Authorization Bill included funding for the following projects of interest to Connecticut:
Sikorsky Aircraft, Stratford • 79 Black Hawks: $1.26 billion
• 18 MH-60S Navy Knight Hawk Helicopters: $414.145 million
• 24 MH-60R Navy Sea Hawk Helicopters: $811.781 million
• Navy CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopter Research & Development: $554.827 million
• UH-60A-A to UH-60L Black Hawk Conversion: $20.4 million
Pratt and Whitney, Middletown • F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II: $6 billion for the Air Force and Navy to procure 28 aircraft – twice the number authorized in 2009
• F-22A Raptors (each of which uses two P&W engines): $3.69 billion for advanced procurement of 12 aircraft in fiscal year 2011
• Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine Program: $6 million
• Metals Affordability Initiative: $10 million
• KC-X Aerial Refueling Tanker: $440 million, as well as urge the Defense Department to conduct source selection and award a KC-X aerial refueling tanker contract as expeditiously as possible.
Connecticut Air National Guard TFI–CNAF Facilities Upgrade, $9 million: to upgrade the Connecticut Air National Guard facilities at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Lock, CT.