Members from Arkansas back legislation
Written by Frank E. Lockwood
Published by Arkansas Democrat Gazette
WASHINGTON — Arkansas’ all-Republican House delegation voted for the proposed National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday, supporting the military bill despite President Donald Trump’s threats to veto the bipartisan measure.
In a written statement, 2nd District U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock said the legislation would bolster the nation’s military forces, including those stationed in Arkansas.
“It is up to Congress to determine how best to utilize the dollars from hard-working American taxpayers for our national defense and security priorities, and as a part of this year’s funding, I am pleased to see a pay raise for the servicemen and servicewomen who defend our nation in the annual defense bill,” Hill said. “This year’s bill also supports our local mission at the Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB) by allocating funds to upgrade our nation’s C-130 fleet, enabling LRAFB to maintain its crucial role in our military’s airlift capabilities for years to come.”
If necessary, Hill is willing to vote to override a presidential veto.
“The National Defense Authorization Act has been signed into law every year for more than half a century, and this record should not be broken any time soon, which is why I voted to support our brave men and women in uniform and their families and would vote with my colleagues again to see it become law,” he said in a subsequent message.
Third District U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers said passage of the bill would help “our heroes in uniform who keep us safe and secure.”
Since his election to Congress in 2010, the retired Arkansas Army National Guard colonel has stressed the importance of passing the legislation.
Womack repeated that message in a statement Tuesday.
“We have a constitutional obligation to protect the homeland and support the men and women who stand watch over freedom. The NDAA is fundamental to that duty, and this bill provides our troops with a well-deserved pay raise and the resources, training, and equipment needed to remain the most capable and superior fighting force in the world. It also prioritizes a Fort Chaffee infrastructure project, invests in Arkansas’s military installations, and confronts emerging threats from authoritarian adversaries like China and Russia,” he said.
Womack did not say whether he would vote to override a veto.
Fourth District U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs portrayed the bill’s passage as necessary, while giving the legislation itself poor marks.
“The bill the House originally put together was terrible, and I voted against it. It then went to a Republican-controlled Senate, and they made improvements, even though it’s still probably the worst NDAA I’ve seen. But at the end of the day, we have to fund our military and this is our option to do so, which is why I ultimately voted for it today,” he said in a written statement.
Westerman would not vote to override a veto, his spokeswoman said.
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro, a former Army explosive ordnance disposal technician, also voted for passage of the legislation. The 1st District congressman was unavailable for comment on the bill or his stand on a veto.