National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011


* Mrs. McCARTHY of New York. Mr. Chair, I rise in support of H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011.

* Each year, Congress acts to authorize national defense spending. Matters of defense spending have been one of my highest priorities throughout my time in Congress. Especially during times of war, we, in Congress, have the utmost obligation to ensure our service men and women have the adequate resources they need to serve both honorably and safely. Moreover, we must remember our retired and wounded service men and women and ensure that they receive the benefits and care respectful of their heroic sacrifices.

* There are many provisions of this $567 billion authorization to be proud of. This bill strengthens four pivotal national objectives including, but not limited to, counterterrorism efforts, missile defense, nuclear nonproliferation, and benefits and care to our nation's service members and their families.

* Some provisions that particularly stand out are the funding authorizations that support the President's agenda in Afghanistan. This bill takes steps to address prior shortfalls of our efforts in Afghanistan under the Bush Administration. Specifically, the bill outlines resources that will give U.S. commanders in the field the tools they need for success, as well as the means to forge meaningful strategic partnerships with neighboring nations so as to both facilitate victory and a swift and safe return for our brave service men and women. The bill also furthers the President's efforts to secure the nuclear arsenals across the globe. If Cold War politics have taught the world one thing, it is that nuclear proliferation could lead to dangerous situations. H.R. 5136 makes significant strides in aligning our defense policy with 21st century challenges, including facilitating a mobile missile defense system and regulation of nuclear arms. I believe Congress must do all that it can to ensure that the development of nuclear technologies is globally regulated and transparent. This bill, in funding key programs like the Department of Energy's Global Threat Reduction Initiative and Department of Defense's Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, takes important steps to ensuring that weapons grade nuclear materials do not end up into the hands of terrorists and dangerous states.

* I am proud to speak to the funds authorized for the benefits and care of our military servicemembers and their families. A nation with the best military in the world should provide the best care in the world. Among its many provisions, H.R. 5136 provides a 1.9% pay raise to our troops, increases imminent danger pay, and expands college loan repayment benefits. Furthermore, the bill includes a ``pre-separation'' counseling program to help provide discharged servicemembers and their spouses with financial and job assistance. Especially in these tough economic times, it is important to promote financial literacy efforts across the board so as to better educate and inform average Americans of their financial and professional options.

* Finally, I am extremely encouraged by language included in the final Defense Authorization bill that recognizes the harmful implications of poor nutrition as it pertains to national security. As Chairwoman of the Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee, I have been very active in efforts to increase access to child nutrition programs. It is important that Congress recognize the vast impact proper child nutrition has on our nation. H.R. 5136 includes a sense of Congress that hunger and obesity are impairing military recruitment and must be properly addressed. I am proud to lead efforts to improve access to important initiatives like direct certification systems, and the national school lunch and summer food services programs. The language in this bill regarding obesity underscores the vast and grave consequences an unhealthy nation can have.

* Again, Mr. Chair, I support the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. I commend both Chairman IKE SKELTON and Ranking Member HOWARD MCKEON for their hard work in putting together a tremendous piece of legislation that, in my opinion, adequately supports our active and retired service men and women.