Dingell on Defense Reauthorization Bill


Date: May 28, 2010
Location: Washington, DC

Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI15) made the following remarks after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act:

On H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act:

"The legislation implements the Democratic Congress' and the Obama Administration's new strategy for our military and provides support to our troops bravely serving our nation and to their families. This legislation will keep our military strong with investments in missile defense, new submarines, strike fighters, and training -- that will increase troop readiness. The bill also does more to protect our men and women in harm's way, with funds for force protection needs for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the creation of a program to get the best life-saving equipment to our troops in the field. And we do more to help our soldiers and their families at home, giving them a 1.9 percent pay raise, expanding TRICARE health coverage to include dependent children up to age 26 and a family separation allowance for troops deployed away from their families. We have asked so much of our military over the last decade, I am pleased that we are doing as much as we can to help them."

On the amendment requiring the Navy to share its information on toxic water contamination at the Camp Lejeune Marines Bases with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in a timely fashion:

"The amendment we added to this bill will take the next step in ending the legacy of toxic water contamination at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. We must provide the public accurate scientific studies so there is certainty about what happened there from 1957 to 1987. Twenty-three years after the contaminated wells were shut down, we have had enough delay from the Department of the Navy. We now will get all data, documents, and records related to the water contamination in a readable, understandable presentation to the ATSDR. I want to thank Congressman Brad Miller (D-NC13) and Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI01) for all their work on this."

On the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military's discriminatory policy prohibiting openly gay members from serving our nation:

"One of the rights our troops have fought to protect is the idea that all men are created equally and we should all be treated as equals. Congress has a responsibility to ensure that we protect the rights of all Americans with the same ferocity that our troops show on the battlefield. We all know there are gay men and lesbians who have served and served heroically in our military. They deserve all the same rights as any other person willing to fight and die for this great country. I am proud to be a part of the effort to overturn this outdated policy and I think history will look at this as a major milestone in the fight against discrimination of any kind in our nation."