Stephanie Young, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement on H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, which passed the House today:
"While I supported the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act when it passed the House today, I share many of the Obama Administration’s concerns as well as those of House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith that this bill does not reflect the hard choices necessary to achieve fiscal sustainability. As Ranking Member Smith noted, Congress required the Department of Defense to craft a budget with massively scaled-down resources. The Department did its duty and made the hard choices, and then Congress simply ignored those cost-saving measures and slashed readiness accounts without offering alternatives. There are several changes I hope the Senate will address when it considers the version passed by the House today.
“I commend Ranking Member Smith for offering an amendment that would help close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay once and for all. The United States continues to spend $2.4 million on each detainee held there while offering America’s enemies a powerful recruiting tool. Keeping this facility open undermines our stature abroad and our efforts to achieve fiscal discipline at home. Article III courts are more than capable of trying terror suspects safely and successfully – and that our maximum security prisons can securely confine even the most hardened terrorists. Additionally, Rep. Adam Schiff deserves great credit for his amendment to repeal the outdated authorization for the use of military force in Afghanistan that Congress passed in 2001. I voted to sunset the authorization for the use of military force in order to spur a conversation on how best to update the military’s authority to destroy Al-Qaeda and end the military detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo.
“Today’s legislation also builds on last year’s efforts to strengthen sexual assault prevention within the ranks. At the same time, it stands by our ally Israel by authorizing $351 million in support of the Iron Dome jointly developed missile defense program that helps protect Israeli communities against rocket attacks from Gaza. This year’s defense authorization bill also reiterates that the United States will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran and strongly condemns Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
“While there are many aspects of the bill that Members on both sides can readily support, it remains a work in progress, and I hope that the next version addresses parts of the bill that many Democrats believe ought to be improved. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both parties to ensure that Congress enacts the best defense authorization bill possible – one that upholds our responsibility to the men and women of our military and to the American people they serve.”