For Immediate Release:
September 24, 2008
Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130
(202) 225 - 3130
WASHINGTON, DC – Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today on the Defense Authorization Bill:
"Chairman Ike Skelton and the Armed Services Committee have worked tirelessly to put this bill together, and I want to begin by recognizing that hard work. Chairman Skelton is among this House’s most dedicated advocates for our men and women in uniform. And he and his committee have put together a good authorization bill that deserves our support.
"The bill authorizes a total of $601.4 billion, including $531.4B in budget authority for the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy’s national security programs. It also includes significant commitments to new shipbuilding, advanced aircraft, and efforts to protect our troops in the field from improvised explosive devices.
"This bill goes a long way to rebuild our military, which is still battered from years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It provides for an increase of 7,000 active-duty Army personnel, 5,000 more Marine Corps personnel, and 1,023 more Navy sailors. It dedicates significant amounts for the reset of worn-down armed forces equipment: $8.6 billion for Army and $1.8 billion for Marine Corps. $800 million is also authorized for the Reserve and National Guard, which have borne a heavy share of the fighting.
"But just as importantly, this bill looks out for the needs of our troops at a time when our country has asked so much from them. They deserve all the support we have to give. That’s why this bill gives them a much-needed raise of 3.9%, more than the President’s request, blocks increases in their healthcare payments, and authorizes $3.2 billion to expand quality family housing.
"In sum, this is a bill that strikes a sound balance between the needs of our national defense and the needs of our troops and their families. The road back to full military readiness will be long and hard—but this bill is a big step in the right direction. I urge my colleagues to support this vital piece of legislation—vital for our troops and vital for our nation’s security."