“I am pleased that I supported H.R. 5122, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization Bill, which passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives and onto the U.S. Senate with broad bipartisan support,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma). “Our servicemen and women, and their families, sacrifice each and every day for the freedoms that we enjoy. This critical legislation fulfills the commitment we owe them, particularly in this time of war. Also included was $50 billion in so-called bridge funds to cover the first portion of war costs for the coming fiscal year. The war in Iraq has been ongoing for over three years and we have a good sense of the costs associated with operations there and in Afghanistan. It only makes sense to authorize this spending. While not perfect, this bill addresses many of the concerns that have been raised over the past few weeks while this bill has been debated both in the House Armed Services Committee, on which I serve, and on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Some of the highlights include additional funding for better equipped vehicles for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for improvised explosive device (IED) protection.”
Smith goes on to state, “last week, I announced several provisions and Puget Sound-based programs that I felt were important when this bill was passed out of the House Armed Services committee last week. A list of these provisions is located at on my Web site at: http://www.house.gov20060504pr.html.”
The bill that passed tonight includes the provisions below:
TRICARE for all Guard and Reservists
The bill grants full, affordable access to TRICARE for all Guard and Reservists, regardless of activation or employment status.” This provision is a key aspect of an earlier bill that Smith introduced, H.R. 4468, which is a quality-of-life bill for Guard and Reservists.
No TRICARE Fee Increases for Retirees
The bill also rejected the Department of Defense’s (DoD) plan to increase TRICARE premiums and enrollment fees for retirees. The provision bars any fee increases in FY07 and creates a task force to study the potential impacts and savings generated by DoD’s plan.
The bill provides for an overall end strength increase of 30,000 troops for the Army and 5,000 Marines for the Marine Corps. Additionally, the bill authorizes the Army National Guard at its full end strength of 350,000. Also, $300 million was added for National Guard equipment, ensuring that the Guard will be able to recruit, train and equip their forces at robust levels.
Also included in the bill is a 2.7% pay raise for all service members, as well as targeted pay raises for warrant officers and senior and mid-grade noncommissioned officers.
The bill authorizes $50 million for Impact Aid to assist schools that are located near military installations. In addition, $15 million is specifically intended for schools that receive additional students because of force structure changes due to the recent round of Base Realignments and Closures (BRAC).
The bill authorizes additional funding for force protection needs in support of on-going Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including up-armored Humvees, Humvee IED protection kits and gunner protection kits, improved IED jammers and state-of-the-art body armor.
As mentioned above, the bill includes $930 million for continued production of enhanced body armor and body armor components. Additional funds continue rapid procurement of enhanced ballistic inserts, for greater troop protection.
The bill supports our frontline troops by increasing the strength of their vehicles to handle the dangerous situations that our servicemen and women face every day, engaged in locations around the world.
- Up-armor Humvees: An increase of $635.5 million addresses U.S. central Command’s requirements for more vehicles.
- Up-armor Humvee IED Fragmentation Kits and Gunner Protection Kits: An increase of $364 million buys kits that add protection to doors, door frames, fuel tanks, and underbody areas and provides added protection for turrets, such as “transparent armor” gun shields
- Armored Security Vehicle (ASV): An increase of $83 million for the ASV, which provides ballistic, overhead and landmine convoy protection.
The bill also requires 100% of U.S. Military wheeled vehicles in harms way to have IED Jammers. In effect, the bill would require the Secretary of Defense to equip 100% of U.S. military wheeled vehicles operated in Iraq and Afghanistan outside of military compounds with effective IED jammers by the end of FY07. While jammers do not provide 100% protection against all threats, they have proven extremely effective saving lives and preventing injury to countless members of our armed forces.