WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in support of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, which passed the House 389-22:
“I want to thank Chairman Skelton and the Armed Services Committee for their hard work on this bill. It authorizes $550.4 billion in budget authority for the Department of Defense and national security programs at the Department of Energy, in addition to $130 billion for overseas contingency operations. This defense authorization bill is a serious effort to reprioritize our defense spending to focus on the real and immediate threats our nation and our troops face. While it includes funding for a wide range of vital programs, I would like to single out some of the most important.
“For one, this bill takes significant steps to rebuild our Armed Forces, which have been worn down by 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 improve the readiness of the National Guard and Reserve. The bill also meets the President’s request by adding an additional 15,000 troops to the Army, 14,650 to the Air Force, 8,000 to the Marines, and 2,477 to the Navy. In addition, it provides for much-needed upgrades to our barracks and defense facilities.
“As you know, the new national security strategy put forward by the Obama Administration includes redeployment from Iraq and a renewed commitment to preventing Afghanistan from becoming a failed state and a haven for terrorism. This bill reflects those priorities by setting clear goals and timelines for progress in Afghanistan, funding and training the Afghan and Pakistani security forces for counterinsurgency, and requiring the Administration to closely track all defense articles provided to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Of course, the threat of terrorism is heightened immeasurably when it is tied to the possibility of nuclear proliferation. That is why some of the most important provisions of this bill increase funding for counterproliferation efforts within the Departments of Defense and Energy, including the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. Given the danger of weapons of mass destruction in the wrong hands, there are few more cost-effective investments we can make in our security.
“One of the most important things we can do to protect taxpayer dollars is reform our defense acquisition process—which is why I’m pleased that this bill takes important steps toward reform, building on the weapons acquisition reform bill recently signed into law by President Obama. The authorization bill increases the size of the Department of Defense’s civilian acquisition staff, which means less reliance on outside contractors, and thus stronger oversight of the entire acquisitions process. The result will be less waste and, I trust, net savings for taxpayers.
“Finally, I am proud that this bill sees to the needs of our troops. It expands defense health coverage to better serve reservists and their families, enhances housing for active-duty families, makes it easier for friends and family to visit wounded troops during their recoveries, and more.”