Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) was pleased to vote for the fiscal year 2006 Defense Authorization Act Conference Report. The bill authorizes a total of $441.5 billion for programs in the bill which include all the activities of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the nuclear weapons activities of the Department of Energy, among others. The bill also includes an additional $50 billion authorization for a “bridge fund” to fund the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for six months, until a further formal supplemental request for these costs can be considered next year.

The language against prisoner abuse by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was included in the legislation. The language prohibits all U.S. personnel, including agents of the Central Intelligence Agency and other civilians, from engaging in torture, or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of foreign detainees by the government.

“As a conferee that helped shape the conference report, I was pleased with the McCain language in the report that sends a clear signal to the rest of the world that the United States is unequivocally stating that torture and mistreatment do not work and that they are not representative of American ideals or values. This is a critically important provision in the legislation.”

The Conference Report also adopts a Sense of the Congress that says 2006 should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq. It also creates quarterly reporting requirements until all combat brigades have been redeployed from Iraq.

Provisions for our servicemen and women were also included in the report. Some of these provisions include a 3.1% pay raise for all uniformed service members and for the first time ever, all reservists who agree to continue service in the Selected Reserves will have an opportunity, depending on their status, to buy into a government subsidized TRICARE Standard health care program for themselves and their families. Finally, the conference report increases the bonuses for enlistment and reenlistment and raises the eligible enlistment age to 42.

“This bill is a positive step forward in providing for the needs of our brave servicemen and women serving at home and around the world,” said Smith. “They are the ones who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and ensuring that we take of them, as well as their families, is the least we can do.”