U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted to support our troops in harm’s way and their families at home by supporting H.R. 1585, the fiscal year 2008 Defense Authorization Conference Report.  The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 370 to 49. 

“Our troops and their families continue to shoulder enormous burdens on our behalf.  I was proud today to vote for legislation that recognizes the sacrifices they make for our country.  This bill will also help repair our military readiness and reequip our National Guard,” Smith said.

Supporting Our Troops in Harm’s Way

“Our troops continue to do a fantastic job in very dangerous environments in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Congress is doing all we can to make sure they have the greatest degree of safety possible.  The legislation we passed today authorized billions of dollars in funds for more MRAPs, up-armored Humvees, counter measures for improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and new body armor,” Smith said.

Restoring Our Military Readiness

The conference report also addressees one of the worst results of the President’s Iraq policies: the degradation of our military readiness. The legislation passed by the U.S. Congress today addresses the drop in readiness by:

  • Providing $980 million for National Guard equipment.  Much of the Guard’s equipment was sent to support operations in Iraq.  The bill also mandates rating and reporting of National Guard readiness for missions inside the United States.  These provisions will be critical for ensuring the emergency response capability of the Washington National Guard.
  • Authorizing $1 billion for the Strategic Readiness Fund to allow for rapid replacement of needed equipment.
    Establishing the Defense Materiel Readiness Board, mandating a detailed report on readiness.

Supporting Our Military Families

“This bill sets policies that will better support our military families strained by repeated, lengthy deployments.  The bill increases military pay by 3.5 percent, prohibits fee increases under TRICARE, and provides better benefits for troops and families,” Smith said.

The conference report includes the Wounded Warrior Act, which would improve care for injured troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal revealed major gaps in care for wounded service members.  The Act implements several recommendations of the commission set up to review shortcomings revealed by the scandal.

Increasing Accountability in Contracts

The defense authorization conference report improves accountability and cracks down on waste, fraud and abuse in contracting, including requiring new steps to manage and oversee contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.