Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, today I am proud to present the fiscal year 2007 defense appropriations bill. I would say to the Members that it is a bill that is $4 billion less than was requested by the administration because of our 302(b) allocation. The subcommittee worked extremely hard with great diligence to make up the difference in some creative ways. It is a good bill that has been discussed many, many times on the floor already as we considered the rule. We will possibly get into some more detail during
the amending process. But at this point I am prepared to reserve my time.
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I do have two requests for time briefly, but I will reserve my time right now.
Mr. MURTHA. Mr. Chairman, I am prepared to yield back the balance of my time so we can get right to the amendment process so they can strike the last word. I am prepared to yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume. And before I yield to Mr. Tiahrt, I wanted to say that the subcommittee has worked extremely well together in creating a nonpartisan bill, strictly no politics in this bill. And I wanted to call attention specifically to Representative MARTIN SABO who has been a longtime member of this subcommittee, who was one of the most thoughtful members of the subcommittee and is really valuable to the work that
Mr. Sabo, as we all know, is leaving the Congress at the end of this term; and he will be missed seriously, especially by the members of this subcommittee. I wanted to call attention to the fact that Mr. Sabo has made a great contribution to the work of this subcommittee.
I yield 2 minutes to a member of the subcommittee, the gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Tiahrt).
Mr. TIAHRT. Mr. Chairman, I wanted to rise today for two reasons, one is to commend Chairman Lewis and the Appropriations Committee for completing their work on the appropriations process today, June 20. This is quite an achievement. It has taken a lot of hard work by the committee. Both the Republican and Democrat members have worked very hard, applied themselves, had strenuous debates, and now we have completed our action, and we are looking forward to the action on the House floor
for all of these bills, including today's defense bill.
The second reason I rise is to thank the chairman and the ranking member for their consideration for the young men and women that serve this great country. One of the significant additions to this bill is an additional $500 million for the National Guard.
National Guard soldiers, as you know, give up their jobs, their time with their family, make sacrifices to make sure this country is safe. Their equipment has been used and used hard, needs to be replaced. And thanks to these two gentlemen, we have $500 million to do just that.
I think this is a very good bill. It does take consideration for young men and women who make sacrifices to serve this country and carry out the will of this Nation, and I hope that we can pass this quickly and get through the amendment process quickly as well.
Mr. HOBSON. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in full support of our fiscal year 2007 Defense Appropriations Bill. This bill and a bridge wartime supplemental funding it carries provide essential support for the forces engaged in the global war on terrorism.
At the strategic level I would like to focus on the Army's long-term readiness level, not only for the current fight, but also for the global threats we face as a Nation. The global war on terrorism is a fight for our cherished way of life. It is not a question of can we as a Nation support more; it is an essential that we cannot afford less.
I would truly understand the competing and compelling demands facing this body and the Nation. As we move this bill forward through the legislative process, we must ensure that the ground forces have everything they require in a timely fashion.
Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Chairman, again I want to thank the members of the subcommittee who worked so diligently. I want to thank specifically Mr. Murtha, who worked with us every day, every hour of every day as we put this bill together. Most Members of the House had some participation in the creation of this bill. In fact, there were 412 Members who had something to do with the creation of this legislation. It is a good bill and I hope we can move it quickly.
Ms. LEE. Mr. Chairman, let me thank the gentleman for yielding and for his leadership and for the very hard work that he consistently does for the security of our Nation.
I appreciate this opportunity to discuss an issue that is of great importance, and that is ensuring that our Federal dollars are not used to support groups or individuals engaged in efforts to overthrow democratically elected governments.
Mr. Chairman, in an ideal world, we would not need to have to explicitly stipulate this, but events in Haiti in 2004 and in Venezuela have led me to believe that we need to codify this straightforward nonpartisan position.
As we know, the administration has committed its second term to spreading democracy around the world, and this should not be a partisan issue. It is at the core of our Nation's values; and quite simply put, it is fundamental to who we are as a people and what we stand for as a Nation.
However, Mr. Chairman, we need to be sure that this administration, or equally any future administration, that if they do not agree with certain democratically elected governments, that it does not use the Department of Defense funds to overthrow those democratically elected governments. Such actions fly in the face of our own fundamental democratic principles. So I would just like to ask the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murtha) if he could comment on this and what his views are
with regard to the ideas that we are presenting today.
Mr. MURTHA. Mr. Chairman, I want to assure the gentlewoman from California I agree, we certainly should not overthrow a democratically elected government. I appreciate the gentlewoman's long concern and attention to raising this issue. And I want to assure her that as this bill moves forward we will be mindful to work with her and her staff to do everything we can to help.
Ms. LEE. Mr. Chairman, let me just say, thank you, again, to the gentleman for his attention to this issue and to so many issues that are important to our Nation. He is truly a courageous hero to many of our minds and many of our views, and we look forward to continuing to work with him and the entire House in standing up for democracy throughout the world.
Mr. MURTHA. Mr. Chairman, I yield to the gentlewoman from Texas for a colloquy. She has an amendment, but I hope we can discuss this.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I rise for the purpose of entering into a colloquy with the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young) and Mr. Murtha from Pennsylvania.
As indicated, I have an amendment that I was prepared to offer that asks for the same increase, 2.7 percent, that the Federal employees were getting for military personnel, which is now at 2.2 percent for the military.
One of the few issues on which all Members of Congress agree is that our military personnel are cherished defenders of our Nation, that we value them highly, that we are proud of them. Every day they stand between the status quo and an ideal for a better future and put their lives on the line to realize this goal.
The current pay increase for military personnel in this appropriations bill is 2.2 percent. This is a total of $84.9 billion for military personnel accounts, which is $1.9 billion greater than in fiscal year 2006, but it is $1.2 billion less than necessary, I believe, to help us get to 2.7 percent.
We just passed the Transportation-Treasury-HUD appropriation bill, which provided a 2.7 percent pay increase for civilian Federal workers, as well as targeted pay increases for a variety of enlisted personnel and officer grades. We need to make the strong statement that we value our Armed Forces just as much as we do our civilian public servants. My amendment simply increases military personnel pay by 2.7 percent over fiscal year 2006.
Every day we are reminded of the sacrifice our children and our neighbors are making. Over 2,500 soldiers have died in Iraq, and over 19,000 have been injured. Several years ago military personnel were paid 13 percent less than comparable civilian pay. This gap, however, has narrowed within the past few years to 6.5 percent in fiscal year 2005. And it is my goal to ensure that we will continue to narrow even more in the coming years.
According to the fiscal year 2006 pay charts, after 4 months of service, newly enlisted individuals earn less than $2,000 per month even if they have completed ROTC courses or 2-year or 4-year college programs. Mr. Chairman, I know we can do better.
I want to thank both Mr. Murtha and Mr. Young of Florida for being steadfast warriors on the battlefield of benefits for our military and for increasing the benefits to their families and to them. I would hope with the increases in experience and education and commission that we are seeing in our young military that we will close the civilian gap so that our young military, our reservists, National Guard, and others will not suffer this, if you will, incompatibility with their
Finally, a May 2004 survey of reservists from the Department of Defense found that 51 percent reported an earning loss, including 44 percent who reported a drop of 10 percent or more, and 21 percent reported an income loss of 20 percent or more. Although this may be due to differences in taxes and other factors, we need to make sure that those in Active Duty are not punished for serving. I hope, as we move through this process, the voices that will be heard will be Members like the chairman and
ranking member of this subcommittee, that we must do more for our young men and women on the frontlines, our reservists, and our National Guard.
I ask the gentlemen here today with me do they share my concerns to increase the salaries? And as well, I would hope that they would work with all of us to find a way to properly compensate and reward our brave men and women in uniform wherever they might be.
Mr. MURTHA. Mr. Chairman, I want to assure the gentlewoman from Texas that both the chairman and I have done everything we can to make sure that the pay is comparable with the civilian sector. In the past it was usually opposite.
And what we are concerned about in the amendment you were going to offer was where it came from. So we are going to work something out. If there is an increase in the civilian pay, you can be assured that the Defense Department will get the same increase.