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Thursday, May 23, 2013
View From the Capitol: Defense funding billPosted Friday, May 11, 2012, at 11:32 AM
Military matters took center stage on Capitol Hill this week, beginning with the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), on which I serve, approving the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 -- legislation to bolster America's defense capabilities to better protect our homeland. This bill invests in military readiness and supports efforts to combat the threat of terrorism. It ensures that our military can sustain the power needed to defend our people and our country.
I am pleased that a number of my amendments are included in the final version, including one to make sure all Coast Guard Reservists who are called to active duty under Title 14 are eligible for the same benefits afforded to other Reservists. I am also glad to see approximately $160 million will be headed to Fort Leonard Wood for vital new military construction projects. In addition, the bill continues support for the family of long-range strike bomber programs, including the B-2, whose home is Whiteman Air Force Base.
It must also be stated that this bill has NO authorization for a new round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
I have fought against BRAC from the very beginning and am very pleased to see there is NO BRAC authorization in this legislation. I was proud to support an amendment banning the Department of Defense from carrying out a BRAC.
This bill is headed to the full House where it is expected to be voted on next week.
Still with national defense, the House moved to ensure the United States is able to provide for its defense -- voting to replace dangerous defense cuts under the sequestration process with common sense spending reductions elsewhere through passage of the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012.
The first responsibility of the United States government is to provide for the common defense. Without further action by the Senate and the Obama Administration, significant across the board cuts to defense will take place in January of next year as part of the sequestration process resulting from the failure of legislators to reach an agreement on how to reduce the deficit. This sequestration process came about as a result of the Budget Control Act that raised the debt ceiling -- which I voted against.
The House Armed Services Committee, on which I serve, estimates sequestration cuts would mean an additional 100,000 fewer Soldiers and Marines. The Navy would likely mothball 60 ships, including two carrier battle groups, while we give up nearly a third of Army Maneuver Battalions and Air Force fighters, a quarter of our bombers, and jeopardize our ability to defend against a nuclear attack. We would also see the elimination of 250 fighter aircraft, and higher fees for military health care. Hundreds of billions of dollars in additional cuts would force our military to give up on developing new weapons systems while badly-needed repairs to existing weapons systems are put on hold.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has determined that sequestration will further weaken America's national defense by bringing about the smallest ground force since World War II, the smallest Navy since World War I, the smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the Air Force, and the smallest civilian workforce in the history of the Defense Department. He has said the sequester cuts would "hollow out the force and inflict severe damage to our national defense." This is unacceptable.
On an entirely different matter, I am pleased to share my congressional office returned more than $67,000 to the U.S. Treasury from the budget allotted to the office. This has been accomplished despite reductions of 5 percent and 7 percent in our Congressional office budget since I began representing the citizens of Missouri's Fourth District.
We are leading, by example, in the effort to cut spending in Washington. Our wise guardianship of taxpayer dollars has not stopped us from serving the good citizens of the Fourth District. We have been able to reach out to citizens by meeting with them in person at town halls throughout the district, through telephone conference calls in which we proactively call residents to solicit their views, and through direct mailings. And we have responded to over 60,000 questions from constituents since January of last year.
Even with our budget reduced, we have been able to effectively serve the people and save them money. We are using Missouri common sense to set an example for Washington.
Have a great 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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