Congressman Crawford with members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
Establishing and maintaining a national fighting force is one of the responsibilities the Framers gave to Congress in the Constitution. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution instructs the Legislative Branch to “provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.” This week the House of Representatives upheld our Constitutional responsibility with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation restores fiscal sanity to the defense budget, affirms our commitment to military families, prepares our forces for a dangerous world and rebuilds our military after a decade at war.
To reflect the concern of our nation’s mounting debt, the National Defense Authorization Act restores fiscal discipline to the Defense Department. While ending the era of deficit spending is paramount, Congress also must make sure that our fighting forces have the resources they need in an increasingly dangerous world.
Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms. Our nation must honor the sacrifice and commitment to service members and their families. While no amount of money can adequately compensate service members, the National Defense Authorization Act does provide for a modest pay increase and extend bonus pay. Service to our nation is a prepayment of healthcare benefits in retirement, and this legislation extends that commitment. Calls to increase TRICARE fees and establish new fees are rejected in the bill.
America must have a strong but nimble fighting force to meet the dangers of the 21st Century. With the inclusion of the Right to Habeas Corpus Act, the bill leaves absolutely no doubt that every American citizen will have their day in court and their Constitutional rights will be preserved. The legislation also prohibits the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States and prohibits any money from being spent to house Guantanamo detainees in the Unites States. As American forces begin to wind down military action in Afghanistan and hand over operations to Afghan forces, the National Defense Authorization Act ensures that security gains are maintained.
After a decade at war, America’s combat power must be maintained. The National Defense Authorization Act restores three Navy cruisers, keeps the Air Force’s block of Global Hawk reconnaissance aircraft and supports counter-IED funding for ground troops. The bill also encourages the Defense Department to work with small and medium sized businesses for funding Pentagon contracts. By streamlining what has been a bureaucratic process, the Defense Department will get the most for every penny spent.
In short, the National Defense Authorization Act fulfills the duty of Congress to provide for the common defense while upholding our pledge to honor service members and their families. As a former member of the United States Army I know the challenges our service members face. We can never adequately say thank you, but we must never forget the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make so we can enjoy a host of freedoms.