WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement in support of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, which will be voted on in the House this afternoon:
“The conference report to this vital Defense Authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2010 takes important steps to enhance our military readiness, our national security, and the well-being of our military families and federal employees.
“This conference report authorizes $550.2 billion in budget authority for the Department of Defense and national security programs at the Department of Energy, as well as $130 billion for overseas contingency operations. It is a serious response to the real, immediate, and rapidly changing threats our nation and our troops face.
“Among its most important provisions are those that help to rebuild our Armed Forces, which are worn down after years of war. It provides $11 billion and $2 billion to re-equip the Army and Marine Corps, respectively, as well as $6.9 billion to meet equipment shortfalls in the National Guard and Reserve. In line with President Obama’s request, it also adds an additional 30,000 troops to the Army, 14,650 to the Air Force, 8,100 to the Marines, and 2,477 to the Navy. And it authorizes 30,000 more Army troops in Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. To ensure safety and dignified living standards for those troops, it commits $350 million to construct new Army training barracks and $200 million for facilities in the National Guard and Reserve.
“This conference report also orients our country in the direction of the new national security strategy put forward by the Obama Administration, which includes redeployment from Iraq and a commitment to the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The conference report reflects those priorities: it requires the Secretary of Defense to report on the progress of redeployment from Iraq; it sets clear goals and timelines for progress in Afghanistan; it funds and trains the Afghan and Pakistani security forces for counterinsurgency; and it enhances accountability by requiring the Administration to closely track all defense articles provided to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“One of the gravest threats to our national security is nuclear proliferation. That is why this bill expands counter-proliferation programs within the Departments of Defense and Energy, including the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.
“I am also pleased that this conference report protects public money by reforming defense acquisition. It builds on the important reform bill President Obama signed in May by strengthening oversight of the acquisition process and expanding the civilian acquisition workforce at the Department of Defense, relieving some of its reliance on private-sector contractors. The result will be net savings for taxpayers.
“The conference report also sees to the needs of our troops and our families. It serves reservists and their families with expanded defense health coverage, improves active-duty housing, helps friends and family visit wounded troops during their recoveries, and more.
“When it comes to fair treatment for our federal employees, the conference report includes two important provisions; I worked hard to see that they were included. First, on the issue of pay, it brings an end to the National Security Personnel System and returns all employees of the Defense Department to the more fair General Schedule pay scale. Second, it allows retiring federal employees to credit their unused sick days toward their pensions, instead of taking months of sick leave at the end of their careers, which is a waste for them and for taxpayers.
“Finally, this conference report includes landmark provisions to strengthen enforcement of hate crimes laws: laws that punish crimes motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or status as a member of our Armed Forces. Such crimes sow fear and division in communities, but all too often are not investigated or prosecuted with the vigor they demand. This legislation is a powerful message that they will not be tolerated.
“I want to thank Chairman Skelton, the Armed Services Committee, and their staff for their months of hard work to bring this legislation close to enactment.”