Senate Armed Services Committee Completes Defense Authorization Bill

In: All News   Posted 05/09/2003

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced Friday that the committee has finalized the FY04 National Defense Authorization Bill. The bill authorizes $400 billion in funding for the Department of Defense, including a pay raise and quality of life improvements for military personnel, and the FY04 national security programs of the Department of Energy."This is the first step in one of the most critical pieces of legislation we will pass this year,” Sen. Cornyn said. “Much remains to be done, but my colleagues on the committee recognize the vital role that Texas troops, training and equipment play in defending America, and have made that priority clear by advancing this legislation.” the Defense Authorization Bill contains a 3.2 percent increase in defense spending and emphasizes the priorities of homeland defense, new capabilities to continue the transformation of the Armed Forces, and quality of life improvements for members of the Armed Forces – active, reserve, guard and retired – and their families."This legislation addresses the need to improve the quality of life for the troops who bravely defend our country, while recognizing and rewarding family members who play such a critical role in our national defense,” Sen. Cornyn said. in close cooperation with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Sen. Cornyn added $29.3 million for military construction projects beyond the original authorization request. Sen. Cornyn also included language in the bill urging the Department of Defense to review its policies to determine if any additional measures can be taken to assist and expedite the naturalization of qualified service members and their families. Specifically, the Department of Defense is directed to examine the feasibility of allowing military personnel to receive official orders and utilize government transportation and lodging in order to carry out naturalization requirements. In early April, Cornyn introduced the Military Citizenship Act to expedite the naturalization process for non-citizens who bravely serve their country in America’s military.The following are some highlights from the various additions to the FY04 National Defense Authorization Bill that were made at the request of Senator Cornyn:• $7.07 million for the construction of a Mine Warfare Command Headquarters at the Naval Station Ingleside. This facility will accommodate and consolidate the Mine Warfare Command and Mobile Mine Assembly Group Commanders and their staffs.•$2.8 million for the University of Texas at San Antonio/Brooks City Base Biotechnology Training Center to conduct research on cell and tissue culture and bacterial growth. Recognized follow-on application of this research includes vaccine development and biosensor production, both of which have direct applicability to homeland security.•$2.0 million for Joint Chemical Agent Detector (JCAD), an automatic, lightweight, man-portable point sampling chemical warfare agent vapor detection/warning system. The JCAD will replace legacy chemical detection equipment. The JCAD is manufactured by BAE Systems in Austin.•$4.5 million to conduct important nanotechnology research. This research will be conducted by the Strategic Partnership for Research in Nanotechnology, which includes Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Texas at Dallas, and the University of Texas at Arlington, in conjunction with the Department of Defense.Other general highlights from the bill:• Approved a 3.7 percent across-the-board pay raise for all uniformed service personnel, including a targeted pay raise ranging from 5.25 to 6.25 percent for mid-career service members for an overall average pay raise of 4.15 percent.•Authorized an increase in the rate of family separation allowance from $100 per month to $250 per month.•Authorized $3.5 billion for the procurement of 20 F/A-22 Raptor aircraft.•Authorized over $4.4 billion, including an additional $56.0 million, for the continued development of the Joint Strike Fighter.