U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) today voted for the $462.9 billion National Defense Authorization conference report for fiscal year 2007. Included in the bill are $70 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan operations, $20 billion more than the President requested. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a conferee on the bill, Smith was pleased a number of his top priorities were included in the final legislation.
“I, along with other Democratic Armed Services Committee members, pushed for the adequate funds to rebuild our forces in light of the extended wear-and-tear of the Iraq war,” Smith said. “I am pleased the bill includes these key funds and provisions, but more must be done.”
- Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The bill requires fiscal year 2007 Iraq spending be reviewed by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR). Although Smith preferred a non-expiring mandate for the SIGIR, he was pleased the bill provided the SIGIR oversight through fiscal year 2007.
“The Iraq reconstruction effort is fraught with waste, fraud, and abuse, and the Special Inspector General has been our only tool for uncovering and addressing the problems,” Smith said. “It was critical to expand the Inspector’s mandate in this bill so we can do more to rein in this gross mismanagement of taxpayer money.”
- No Permanent Military Bases in Iraq. For the first time, this legislation prohibits spending for military bases for the permanent stationing of U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq, or to exercise economic control of Iraq’s oil resources.
“This provision sends a critical message to the Iraqis: we are not occupiers, and the Iraqis must take control of their security,” Smith said.
- IED Jammers. The legislation requires the Defense Department to provide by the end of fiscal year 2007 Improvised Explosive Device (IED) jammers for all United States military wheeled vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan outside secure military bases.
“IEDs are a chief hazard to our troops in the field,” Smith said. “Neutralizing them should be a top priority.”
Also included in the bill are provisions for:
- Army and Marine Corp Readiness. The legislation provides $23.7 billion to replace, repair, and maintain military equipment. The bill also requires the Army properly budget for upkeep of equipment used in the hunt for terrorists.
- TRICARE for Guard and Reserve. The bill grants full, affordable access to TRICARE for all National Guard members and Reservists, regardless of activation or employment status. This provision is a key aspect of an earlier bill Smith introduced, H.R. 4468, a quality-of-life bill for Guard members and Reservists.
- TRICARE and prescription drug access. In addition, the bill places a one-year moratorium on any TRICARE cost-share increases or retail prescription drug co-pay increases.
- Servicemembers Group Life Insurance. Full premiums for Servicemembers Group Life Insurance are paid for servicemembers in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 398 to 23. The Senate must approve the legislation before it can be signed into law by the President.