Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, the House voted to approve the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 which includes more than half a billion dollars in funding for Hawaii’s military construction projects, a 1.6 percent pay increase for our troops and several amendments proposed by Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa.
“I applaud my colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee for all their hard work in crafting a truly bipartisan bill that reflects our country’s continued commitment towards our men and women in uniform,” said Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa. “This bill prioritizes our withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, ensures our troops are well-equipped and well-trained for combat, and provides our troops and their families with the services and support they’ve rightfully earned. I look forward to reviewing my Senate colleagues’ version of the bill.”
- In March, Secretary Robert Gates testified before the House Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon could pay for the United States operations in Libya and provide assistance to Japan with relief efforts without further appropriations from Congress. Secretary Gates continued to explain that this was possible by moving money from accounts they “don’t need or want.” One Hanabusa amendment requires the Department of Defense to identify these programs that are ineffective, redundant or unused. During a time of ballooning budget deficits and spiraling national debt Congress needs to be actively assessing and reassessing budget priorities.
- Another Hanabusa amendment allows those in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) to access health insurance through TRICARE. TRICARE is a program that provides comprehensive and affordable coverage to members of our Armed Services. Because some IRR members seldom serve on extended active duty and are not retired from military service, most are not eligible for medical care from the Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs. There is no reason that personnel who serve in an alternate, reserve capacity should not have access to the TRICARE program.
- Another Hanabusa amendment restricts the right of former, current or future prisoners of Guantanamo Bay from ever traveling freely within the United States. Under the Compact of Free Association (COFA), citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau are afforded the right to unrestricted access to the United States to study, work, and reside as “habitual residents.”It is well known that Guantanamo detainees have or will be repatriated to COFA nations, and in the future, could become naturalized citizens attaining these rights. In the future, this could become a significant danger to our national security if we allow those who were previously deemed a “significant threat” to the United States to travel freely throughout our country.