Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that by a vote of 398 to 23 the House passed the conference report on H.R. 5122, the FY 2007 Defense Authorization, which includes a number of key priorities that Democrats have been fighting for over the last three years to improve our military readiness and to provide for our troops.
“For the last three years, Democrats have been fighting for our military families and, as a result of our efforts, H.R. 5122 now includes measures to improve military readiness, provide health care for reservists, improve military pay for senior enlisted personnel and warrant officers, and block the President’s proposed increase in TRICARE pharmacy copayments,” Faleomavaega said.
The conference report authorizes a $70 billion supplemental for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including $23.7 billion to replace and reset equipment lost or damaged in operations.
The conference report expands TRICARE Reserve Select to members of the Selected Reserves, and terminates the current three-tier eligibility program. Democrats, led by Congressman Gene Taylor, have led the fight to provide full access to TRICARE – the military health program – to all members of the Guard and Reserve and their families for a low premium.
The conference report puts a one-year moratorium on any increases in retail pharmaceutical prices under the TRICARE system. President Bush proposed to nearly double pharmacy co-pays for military families.
The conference report authorizes a 2.2 percent pay raise, effective January 1, 2007, and includes a Democratic proposal, led by Congressman John Spratt, to provide targeted pay raises for mid-grade and senior NCOs and warrant officers, effective April 1, 2007.
The conference report establishes additional financial protections for service members, prohibiting creditors from charging service members and their dependents annual percentage rates of interest for loans higher than the legal limit for state residents.
“I am pleased by the outcome of today’s vote and I am also proud of our men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Our military men and women deserve our support and, by a vote of 398 to 23, the US House of Representatives has sent a strong message that we are united in doing what is right for our troops. I commend my colleagues and I salute our troops for their courage, sacrifice and service. Given that American Samoa has the highest per capita casualty rate of any other State or Territory, I also pray for our warriors and their families. May God bring them safely home and may God bless America,” Faleomavaega concluded.