Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rep Hill On House Passing Bill to Fully Fund National Security Priorities & The VA Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2017 by a bipartisan vote of 277-147. The NDAA will provide $610.5 billion total in funding for national defense priorities, with $566.5 billion in base funding, and an additional $35.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.

“Finding consensus can be a hard fight in Congress, but for the 55th straight year, Republicans and Democrats have come together to fund our military at the levels they need to complete their strategic missions throughout the globe,” said Congressman French Hill (AR-02).

This year’s NDAA will increase troop levels, give a deserved pay raise for all servicemembers above the levels requested by the president, and will simplify TRICARE options to better fit the health care needs of our military.

It will also authorize the modernization of the C-130 Hercules fleet, which is the backbone of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard airlifters at Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB). “LRAFB has been a center for excellence for a long time, and modernizing their planes will guarantee these planes remain a critical part of our national security for years to come,” said Hill.

President Obama has threatened to veto the NDAA, the veto threat was primarily over restrictions placed against transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay (GTMO). In September of last year, Congressman Hill went to GTMO as part of a CODEL visit to assess GTMO’s facilities and operations.

“In my view, GTMO offers our Nation a safe and secure facility for the custody of perpetrators of terror including ruthless killers, bomb makers, the bomber of the USS Cole, and the 9/11 Five,” said Hill after returning from GTMO. “Further, we have invested in state-of-the-art secure courtroom facilities that enable the proper adjudication of the detainees by military commission. GTMO remains a key national intelligence resource.”

The president campaigned in 2008 on the promise of shutting down GTMO, a move that has been repeatedly blocked by Congress, “closing GTMO is not in the best interest of the American people. President Obama’s insistence on closing it shows a commander-in-chief who is not committed to using all the tools at our disposal to defeat an enemy that is determined to harm us and our allies throughout the world,” said Hill. “I strongly urge the president to reconsider his veto threat and use this authorization towards winning the Global War on Terror.”

Also yesterday, the House passed H.R. 4974, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017. H.R. 4974 contained a provision that prohibits funding solar panel projects under the Green Management Program. Congressman French Hill (AR-02) spoke on the House Floor Wednesday night in support of this provision. Last year, Congressman Hill and Senator John Boozman (AR) requested a Department of Veterans Affair Office of Inspector General report (VAOIG) into the failed solar panel construction project at the Little Rock VA Medical Center.

Following passage of H.R. 4974, Congressman Hill released the following statement:

“This appropriations bill will give the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) an increase in the resources it needs to care for our veterans. I am particularly pleased with the funding to move toward a paperless and more efficient processing system for disability claims. Our wounded and injured veterans should not have to wait months and years to receive the compensation they deserve for their service.

“While this bill does contain important provisions to increase congressional oversight of VA dollars—like eliminating bonus pay for poorly-performing VA executives and provisions to prevent cost overruns on construction projects—that oversight will not be as effective as it needs to be until the Senate moves the VA Accountability Act of 2016. Employees who do not act in the best interest of the veteran need to be removed from the system, and I urge the Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to pass this bill through the Committee.”

Tags: Rep. French Hill, Arkansas, AR-2, U.S House, passes, Fully Fund National Security Priorities, VA Appropriations Bill To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

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