After Fighting for Needed Changes, Armed Services Committee Member Garamendi Votes for Improved Defense Bill

Garamendi Remains Committed to Ending Afghanistan War 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, who represents Travis Air Force Base, today voted in favor of the modified National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).The new NDAA is significantly improved from the version the House voted on earlier in the year, and it includes provisions vital to maintaining the strength of our Armed Forces.

"Above all else, I stand with the brave men and women in uniform willing to risk everything, and this version of the National Defense Authorization Act provides them with the resources they need to continue their service," said Congressman Garamendi. "As the President said in a speech today to soldiers at Fort Bragg, marking the end of the war in Iraq, 'We’re going to keep finding new ways to serve all of you as well as you have served us,' and this bill takes a meaningful step in the right direction. This bill includes a 1.6 percent pay increase for our troops, keeps TRICARE affordable, and includes needed anti-mine and anti-IED technology. This legislation puts personnel first and does right by Travis Air Force Base and other bases in Northern California."

"This bill also keeps the MC-12 surveillance program in the Air Force and at Beale Air Force Base, an issue I've been active on since I entered Congress," Garamendi continued. "The program is working well at Beale, and the disruptions proposed by some in the Senate could have put national security at risk."

Congressman Garamendi last week sent a letter to the Armed Services Conference Committee asking them to keep the MC-12 program in the Air Force. He also joined a bicameral bipartisan letter on the subject. Last year, Congressman Garamendi urged the Pentagon to place the MC-12 program at Beale Air Force Base.

"For the first time in nearly a decade, the NDAA does not keep tens of thousands of troops fighting a war of choice in Iraq, and that is a reason to celebrate," Congressman Garamendi said. "The most pro-troops patriotic thing Congress can do is to get our military personnel out of harm's way. After all, they aren't just heroes; they're also sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives."

"Many are coming home from Iraq, but too many more are being redirected to Afghanistan, where we continue to be engaged in an internal civil war on behalf of the corrupt Karzai government," he added. "I regret that despite my vocal opposition and persistent legislative advocacy, the NDAA continues this war. We need to focus on Al Qaeda like a laser wherever they take root, and with fewer than 100 Al Qaeda operatives left in Afghanistan, it's time to bring the longest war in U.S. history to a close."

In May, Congressman Garamendi led the fight against a provision within the section on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which would have allowed the President to sign a blank check for an endless war anywhere on earth without Congressional approval. Garamendi offered an amendment in the Armed Services Committee markup to remove this language from the bill. He also voted for amendments on the House floor based on his amendment in Committee. Because Congressman Garamendi helped bring this "sleeper" provision to light and because Members of Congress on both sides spoke out against it, this dangerous provision was removed from the NDAA.

Garamendi continued, "Most of the divisive proposals compromising civil liberties have been removed from this bill, including language that would have discriminated against the LGBT community. By no means is this perfect legislation, and I remain concerned by the detainee policy. Fortunately, the White House also dislikes these provisions, and I will continue working with them on best strategies moving forward to come to a resolution that respects the rule of law and the founding principles of our Republic. For the sake of our strength as a country, our work on all these matters must continue."

 

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