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House Approves FY11
Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman
Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) delivered the following statement during House
debate on H.R. 6523, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal
Year 2011, which was approved by a vote of 341 to 48:
Speaker, today is the beginning of the end of a long journey, a journey
that started with the submission of the President’s budget on February
1, 2010. The law requires the President to send us a budget, and he did
“But our obligation in considering the budget goes deeper. The Founding Fathers entrusted Congress with the care of the .
The Constitution, Article I, Section 8, requires that we raise and
support Armies, provide and maintain a Navy, and make rules for the
government and regulation of the land and naval forces. That is our
of you, like me, have spent time with our troops overseas. Their
dedication, courage, and devotion never cease to amaze. Their service
and sacrifice is matched only by that of their families who bear the
same burden. Their sacrifice is, at times, almost unbearable. Yet they
do it, and not for us, but for the American people. However, we bear
the awesome burden of repaying their sacrifice.
“For 48 consecutive years, the Congress has carried out its duty to the men and women of the military by passing a
It is a job that has never been easy. There have been many years where
we have almost failed. In my 34 years, through 12 military conflicts
including the most divisive wars in American history – Vietnam and Iraq – the Congress has wavered, but never failed..
bill is must pass legislation. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
There are literally hundreds of needed provisions in here that will not
become law any other way. I have time to name only a few. This bill
stops an increase in health care fees from hitting the families of
military personnel; authorizes
military families to extend TRICARE coverage to their dependent
children until age 26; and adopts comprehensive legislation fighting
sexual assault in the military. It creates a counter-IED database and
enhances the effort to develop new, lightweight body armor.
It gives DOD new tools and authorities to reduce its energy demand
while improving military readiness. It bolsters our defense against
cyber attacks. It requires independent assessments of the
modernization plan and of the annual budget request for sustaining a
strong deterrent. It aligns the Navy’s long term shipbuilding plan
with the QDR. And, it includes significant acquisition reform, the
Improve Acquisition Act of 2010, which could save as much as $135
billion over the next five years. That is just a sampling of the good
work done in this bill.
some members are claiming, falsely, that the language in the bill on
Guantanamo detainees is not strong enough. Let me tell you what the
bill actually does. It prohibits the release of detainees into the
United States or its territories. It prohibits the transfer or release
of detainees into the United States or its territories. It prohibits
the use of any DOD funding to build or modify any DOD facility in the
United States for the detention of any Guantanamo detainee. This
restriction applies not only to , but to the whole country. It prohibits the transfer or release of any
detainee to any country which has received a detainee and allowed that
detainee to return to the battlefield. This is the most thorough and
comprehensive set of restrictions ever placed on the transfer and
release of detainees. It is substantially stronger than current law,
and voting against this bill will have the effect of making it easier to
bring detainees into the United States and easier to transfer them to
countries that have failed to hold them in the past.
all know that this year’s journey towards passage has been rancorous
and difficult like few others. No one is happy with everything that was
done. That is just the nature of Congress. In finding common ground,
we all have to give a little. But we cannot give when it comes to
supporting the men and women in the armed forces. We stand today on the
dividing line between success and failure. Do not fail now. Finish
the journey. Vote for the National Defense Authorization Act.”