Recently, Bill teamed up with Fred Upton to discuss the importance of strengthening our military, providing our troops with a much needed pay raise, and reforming how the Pentagon spends taxpayer dollars. The following column on the National Defense Authorization Act appeared in the Holland Sentinel.
For the last 56 years, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has been the primary way in which Congress executes its Article I constitutional obligation to “provide for the common defense.”
Just this week, we joined our colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives in advancing this year’s NDAA, H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, by a bipartisan 344 to 81 vote. This is a critical step forward towards strengthening our military, keeping our country safe, standing up for our men and women in uniform, and their families, all while protecting taxpayer dollars.
The 2018 NDAA focuses on three important objectives: improving readiness, supporting our troops, and reforming the Pentagon.
For the last six years, our military has just been getting by. Due to cuts, our service members have been forced to do more with less. Troops are taking longer tours of duty, equipment is being used past its lifespan, and important modernizations are being postponed.
As a result, our military’s preparedness to respond to threats — or its readiness — is dangerously slipping. Our bill supports funds for a nearly $30 billion increase for essential military readiness above the president’s budget request to help close this readiness gap.
This funding level is informed by years of in-depth Congressional oversight and is crucial at a time when threats around the globe grow.
During the course of the last year, we have seen countries such as Russia and North Korea take increasingly aggressive positions against the United States and our interests. We are also committed to continued counterterrorism measures in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
Unfortunately, while the world has grown more dangerous, our own military has grown smaller. The 2018 NDAA increases the size of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Army Guard and Reserve, Naval and Air Reserve, and Air Guard and ensures they have the tools they need to succeed. Additionally, we fully fund cyber operations in order to support the Department of Defense cyberspace capabilities and strategies. Now more than ever, our military must be ready to deal with these unpredictable threats. The safety of the American people and our troops depends on restoring readiness which is why it is a major focus of our bill.
Of great importance, this bill also fully funds the 2.4 percent pay raise our troops are entitled to under law while blocking the president’s ability to reduce troop pay. It also extends special pay and bonuses for service members.
Making certain those who have sacrificed so much for our country receive the proper care they deserve is also a key component of the 2018 NDAA. As such, our legislation prohibits the reduction of impatient care for military Medical Treatment facilities located outside the United States – blocking the misguided attempts to close military medical facilities that our deployed troops, and their families, rely on. The 2018 NDAA also continues the annual restrictions against transferring detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the United States
Finally, the 2018 NDAA contains important reforms to the Pentagon to ensure your taxpayer money is being spent wisely. While repairing and rebuilding our military is key to defending our country, so is modernizing the way the Pentagon does business.
The 2018 NDAA makes it clear the Pentagon must undergo major bureaucratic overhauls and fundamental reforms to the way they buy goods and services. One simple solution is to allow the Pentagon to use online commercial sites such as Amazon to do business to ensure the government gets the best price without miles of red tape. This type of Pentagon transparency and accountability is groundbreaking and necessary.
We will continue working in a bipartisan, bicameral way as the NDAA moves from the U.S. House to the U.S. Senate and then to the president’s desk.
As regional conflicts play out on a global scale and terror organizations continue spreading fear and hate, we should be proudly standing together in support of our military. Our men and women in uniform, and their families, deserve nothing less.