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On the national defense bill, military equipment, middle class tax reliefPosted Friday, December 16, 2011, at 3:44 PM
The House of Representatives took a critically important vote in support of America's national defense this week when it approved the National Defense Authorization Act to fund the military through the 2012 fiscal year. The legislation brings the total authorized funding for National Defense to $554 billion for the base budget and $115.5 billion for overseas contingency operations.
I have said many times that there is no higher priority than providing for the common defense. This legislation will ensure our men and women in uniform around the world have the equipment and the resources they need to successfully complete their missions and return home. It will also provide our troops and their families with the resources and support they need while investing in force structure needed to protect this country from current and future threats. Military personnel will see a 1.6 percent increase in their pay. The bill also caps future health care fee increases to cost of living adjustments.
The defense bill includes upgrades at both Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base. The legislation contains $49 million in military construction for a Vehicle Maintenance Facility at Fort Leonard Wood and almost $5 million in military construction for a Weapons Storage Area Security Control Facility at Whiteman Air Force Base. Additionally, the Air Force will receive funding for mixed conventional load upgrade and modernization efforts for the bomber inventory.
Legislation was also filed this week to allow supporters of the military to keep fighting for our servicemen and women to make sure they have the resources and equipment they need to keep us safe. The Down Payment to Protect National Security Act, which I co-sponsor, will prevent devastating cuts to America's military that could come about as a result of the so-called super committee to reach agreement on slashing the deficit. I firmly believe in the need to rein in the federal government's runaway spending, but don't believe we should balance our budget on the backs of our men and women in uniform.
The United States Constitution makes it clear that the primary obligation of Congress is to provide for the defense of our country. Defense spending has already been cut dramatically and we must stop further cuts from taking place. National defense is a non-partisan matter. President Obama's own Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, has cautioned against further cuts to our military and has even warned additional cuts to national defense would be devastating. I agree completely with the Secretary of Defense's statements. Our national security must not be put at risk.
The House also began the process of protecting hard-working taxpayers from a scheduled January increase in their Social Security deductions by voting for H.R. 3630 -- the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. The bill maintains, for another year, the reduction in the Social Security payroll tax that Congress approved last December. It also includes important reforms to the unemployment compensation system, while shortening the length of extension from 99 weeks to 56 weeks. These extensions will be helpful to Americans struggling with the Obama economy and its failed policies, but the extension must be limited as we simply cannot afford almost two years of benefits. The bill also includes important job creation provisions requiring the Obama Administration to act on the Keystone pipeline project, extending 100 percent business expensing, and blocking the Environmental Protection Agency's onerous regulation impacting boilers.
Unfortunately, this good piece of common sense legislation has not been approved by the Senate, to date. The Senate is looking at the legislation and, hopefully, will pass it soon.
In other news, Ameren's proposal to redraw its Lake of the Ozarks project boundary to the 662 foot contour was released this week. It appears to be a good faith effort on the part of the company to protect the property rights of homeowners in jeopardy of having their homes torn down. It is a good start to addressing this complex issue. Ameren's proposal includes two public workshops and a 30-day comment period before the plan is submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). I urge Lake-area residents to attend and will continue to explore legislative options to ensure Lake of the Ozarks property rights are protected for years to come.
It is always a pleasure to hear from you and to listen to your views and concerns. If you plan to visit the Washington area, please stop by our office at 1023 Longworth House Office Building. In the 4th Congressional District, you are welcome to come by our offices in Jefferson City, Harrisonville, Lebanon, and Sedalia. You can also keep up with us by going to our website at www.hartzler.house.gov
Have a good week.
Have a good week.
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Vicky Hartzler is the U.S. representative for Missouri's 4th Congressional District. She was raised on a farm in Archie, and lives with her husband, Lowell and daughter, Tiffany, on a working farm in Cass County. She is a graduate of both the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1983 and Central Missouri State University (now University of Central Missouri) in 1992, graduating summa cum laude with a B.S. in Education from MU and a M.S. in Education from Central Missouri. For more information, visit http://hartzler.house.gov.
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