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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

ICYMI: Our Military Deserves Much Better

October 22, 2015
Press Release

Time and time again we hear the complaints regarding politics in Washington. The President himself has expressed frustrations with the partisan atmosphere in our nation’s capital and has asked that Congress work together on issues important to our country.

The President asked and we answered.

Last week, we sent the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the President’s desk for signature. This crucial legislation will authorize necessary funds for the Department of Defense to provide our military with the tools they need to defend our country.

The NDAA is a representation of what can happen when both sides of the aisle and both chambers of Congress work together for our country.

This bill is a product of the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Committee, a Committee I was proud to serve on. We worked diligently to create a bipartisan bill that will ensure our military is prepared and we, as Americans, are safe. 

The NDAA provides the exact amount of military funding the President requested. It allows our military to be better equipped to handle the unprecedented amount of national security threats we face today.

The NDAA strengthens our national security by:

  • providing additional resources for and access to new cyber security tools;
  • increasing funds for U.S. intelligence & warning capabilities;
  • requiring the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the President, to submit a strategy to counter unconventional warfare threats posed by Russia and Iran;
  • providing additional authorities and funding to counter Russian propaganda efforts;
  • extending the “Iran Military Power Report” for 10 years; and
  • authorizing resources for the planning and design of an East Coast missile defense site

There are also many aspects of this bill that will directly benefit our nation’s servicemembers and their families including:

  • a 1.3% military pay raise for the members of our Armed Forces;
  • a new retirement benefit for the 83% of our troops who currently do not receive such benefits;
  • additional resources for transitioning servicemembers into the workforce;
  • improved access to child care on military installations;
  • expanded opportunities for the spouse and children of servicemembers to fly on military aircraft based on space available
  • preserved housing allowance for dual military couples;
  • ability for servicemembers to receive nonemergency care on weekends; and
  • increased efforts to bring military working dogs back home to the country they too fought to defend

Since it was first passed more than 50 years ago, the NDAA has only been vetoed four times. Each time, a compromise was reached to get the legislation passed. Each time, the President took issue with a specific provision of the legislation that could be adjusted.

This time, the President is holding this legislation hostage to a process of budgetary procedure completely unrelated to our national security and subjects contained within the bill. He is threatening to veto this legislation in an effort to coerce more domestic spending.

When it comes to our national security, there is no time to waste. There is no time to play political games. Our military deserves much better. That the president misses this point is hugely disappointing and disconcerting.

This bill was approved by the House with 269 votes and the Senate with 71 votes – a remarkable, and unfortunately rare, display of bicameral bipartisanship

We in Congress worked together on this important issue, just as the President requested.

Now it is his turn to work with Congress to help our nation’s heroes. It is his turn to help keep our country safe. I hope that we can get this done for our brave men and women in uniform and provide the same unwavering dedication to our troops that they have displayed in protecting our democracy.

To read online, click here

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