Saturday, May 12, 2007

HASC Approves FY2008 Defense Authorization Act

The House Armed Services Committee Wednesday completed its full markup of H.R. 1585, the Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008 and approved the bill by a unanimous vote of 58-0. The bill authorizes $503.8 billion in funding for the Department of Defense and an additional $142 billion to support continuing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) said that the bill “concentrates on our military’s critical readiness needs … and gives the National Guard enhanced authorities to fulfill its expanded role in the nation’s defense.” Indeed, many of NGAUS’ strategic issues are addressed in
the legislation and several positive steps were taken, including enhancing the role of the Guard and repealing last year’s language relating to the Insurrection Act.

Empowerment

The committee combined several recommendations of the National Guard and Reserve Commission with elements of the National Guard Empowerment Act. Authorized in H.R. 1585 are provisions to include:

• A fourth star for the Chief of the NGB and enhanced duties for that position
• Making the NGB a joint activity of the Department of Defense
• Requiring the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review and determine how best to incorporate more National Guard personnel into positions at Northern Command.
• Expanding the NGB’s charter to include official coordination with federal agencies, states, Joint Forces Command, and Northern Command on homeland and civil support activities.

Equipment

The committee authorized an additional $1 billion for the “procurement of critical, high-priority equipment to address National Guard and reserve component unfunded equipment shortfalls.”

Insurrection Act Repeal

The committee approved an amendment offered by Representative Mark Udall (D-CO) returning authority over the National Guard to the Governors. The repeal of language granting additional authority over the National Guard to the President was unanimously supported by all 50 Governors. Passage of this repeal legislation will rightfully place the Governors back in control of their respective state Guard units.

Personnel

H.R. 1585 authorizes a 3.5% across-the-board pay raise for all service members and prohibits any increase in both TRICARE and pharmacy user fees. Further, the legislation allows for the expansion of the Army National Guard by 1,300 individuals.

Joint Cargo Aircraft

The committee approved language that delays the Army and the Air Force from using funds to continue the Joint Cargo Aircraft program until the Department of Defense completes studies relating to intra-theater airlift requirements. The committee was concerned that moving forward with the program could lead to an “unnecessary duplication of effort and expenditure of resources.”

The bill will next go to the floor for a full vote by the House. The Senate will begin deliberations on their version of the Defense Authorization Bill in the coming weeks.

Labels:

2 comments del.icio.us/rawsense2004 del.icio.us

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home