WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) said he voted in support of bipartisan legislation to strengthen national security, provide military servicemen and women with the equipment and resources they need, and protect veterans from future burdensome increases to their health care premiums.
H.R. 1540, the Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012, also makes critical investments in enhancing the U.S.’s Special Operations Forces and anti-terrorism efforts, according to a news release. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a strong bipartisan vote of 322-96.
“The Valley has always stepped up in higher-than-average numbers to defend our nation, and this bill honors their patriotism not just with words, but with action,” Cardoza said in the release. “I am proud to support legislation that gives our men and women in uniform the resources they need to do their jobs, while also showing respect for the sacrifices our veterans have made. On this Memorial Day and every day, we should take a moment to thank those in our community who have protected our freedom with their service to our country.”
Among the bill’s key provisions supported by Cardoza are:
--Troop Pay Raise: The bill provides all service members a pay raise of 1.6 percent.
--Ensure Fair TRICARE Premiums for Veterans: For the future, the bill establishes new principles in law to protect against disproportionate increases in TRICARE Prime fees. Specifically, the bill specifies that the percentage fee increase in any future year may not exceed the percentage increase in military retired pay for that year. This provision is strongly supported by the Military Officers Association of America.
--Support for Special Operations Forces. The bill increases authorized funding for Special Operations Forces to combat terrorism. The bill also extends the authority to engage in such operations through FY 2014. --Enhanced Anti-Terrorism Efforts. The bill authorizes funding for various anti-terrorism efforts conducted by the Department of Defense. --New Rights & Protections for Victims of Sexual Assault in the Military. The bill ensures that victims have access to a military lawyer and maintain their option of confidential reporting even if they seek legal counsel. Further, it ensures that conversations between victims and Victim Advocates as well as DOD Safe Helpline counselors are confidential and immune from discovery by military lawyers if a case goes to court. The bill also provides victims of sexual assault with the right to transfer out of their base or unit and it requires greater training for sexual assault prevention and response at every level of the armed services.
--Improved Mental Health Care for Guard & Reserve. The bill makes mental health assessments available for members of the National Guard and Reserve at the location of their unit during unit training and assemblies. --Protective Equipment for Troops in Harm’s Way. The bill provides funding for measures to counter IED activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also provides funding for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. --Readiness Training for Troops. The bill authorizes needed funding for the training of all active-duty and reserve forces to increase readiness. --Maintenance of Military Equipment. The bill authorizes funding for equipment reset and maintenance for the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force.