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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bright: Update from Washington for 6-22-09

Check out U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright's column for this week:

Last week, my colleagues in Congress and I focused on two major bills that provide necessary improvements and look boldly toward the future for our men and women in the Armed Services.
On last Tuesday, the House passed a supplemental appropriations bill that gives troops serving overseas the much needed updates to safety and weaponry they need to accomplish their mission and adds provisions to keep terrorists off of our home soil. And on last Wednesday, the Armed Services Committee passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2010, which funds the Department of Defense and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The full House is expected to vote on the Defense Authorization Act this week.
The supplemental appropriations bill passed by a broad, bi-partisan majority when it was first considered last month. The vote was closer last week, however, because the Senate added controversial funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Though I strongly disagree with any plan to make credit available to foreign nations during a time in which people right here in America are tightening their belts to make ends meet, I supported the supplemental because there is nothing more important that protecting those brave men and women who defend our freedoms. For me, a vote to support our troops will never be compromised by political games. I am pleased that my Alabama colleagues in the House- Congressmen Artur Davis and Parker Griffith- and our two Senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, shared those values.

In addition to providing troops with new equipment and additional resources, the supplemental appropriations contained several other important provisions. It makes investments in military health care, including new hospital construction. It also increases funding for preventing attacks from roadside bombs and for mine-resistant vehicles. Understanding the sacrifices our soldiers have made, the bill gives soldiers serving involuntarily under stop loss with an additional $500 a month for each additional month they served under stop loss. Furthermore, the supplemental prevents terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from being released onto the mainland United States.

While the supplemental makes emergency appropriations, the NDAA allocates money the Department of Defense and, for the first time, proactively budgets money for our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It passed out of the Armed Services Committee by a unanimous, bi-partisan 61-0 margin. The NDAA authorizes a total of $680 billion for military spending, ensuring we are doing what is needed for our soldiers.

Included in the NDAA is a 3.4% pay raise for the military, which is .5% over the President’s budget requests and brings the military closer in line with private sector pay raises. It also increases the size of the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines in order to meet increased force requirements.
To meet the challenges presented by missile attacks from rogue nations, the NDAA increases funding for the THAAD missile, which combats in-theater attacks from missiles and is built in Troy. The committee crafted the budget for missile defense based on recommendations made by with Secretary of Defense Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, and other generals who are experts in the field.

As a member of Congress who represents a district with one of the highest concentrations of military and veterans in the country, there is nothing more important to me than doing right for our men and women in uniform. As we approach the July 4th holiday, I firmly believe we should all honor the patriots who have sacrificed to make America the greatest country in the history of the world.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call our offices in Montgomery at (334) 277-9113, Dothan at (334) 794-9680, Opp at (334) 493-9253, or Ozark at (334) 445-4600. You can also visit the website at http://www.bright.house.gov/ to sign up for the e-newsletter. It is my great pleasure to serve you and the entire Second District of Alabama.
-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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