McCaskill Priorities Included in National Defense Legislation
Senator leads successful fight to include issues critical to Missouri and U.S. military while continuing to advocate for transparency and accountability
May 25, 2012
WASHINGTON - As the Senate Armed Services Committee closed its yearly debate on the National Defense Authorization Act-legislation that sets policy and priorities for the Department of Defense-U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill applauded the Committee for including a host of issues she had championed in the bill.
Among other efforts, McCaskill successfully advocated for the following items critical to Missouri and the U.S. armed forces:
• Blocking an additional round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). As the Chairman of the Senate panel with jurisdiction over base closures, McCaskill told top military leaders earlier this year that she would not allow any plan to move forward that closes U.S. military bases here at home, given the minimal savings that occurred as a result of the last BRAC round in 2005 and a lack of a full analysis of the costs associated with a new BRAC. Before bases inside the U.S. are closed, the function and necessity of the over 1000 bases abroad should be evaluated.
• Full funding for the procurement of 26 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets and 12 EA-18G Growlers, and the addition of $60 million to for advance procurement for the F-18 to prepare for the likelihood that more of the aircraft will need to be bought in fiscal year 2014 due to massive delays and cost overruns in the F-35 program. The bill also includes language expressing concerns with the F-35 program and indicating purchases of F-35s should not necessarily occur if the program is not performing on schedule. The F-35 program has a long history of being behind schedule.
• Strengthening whistleblower protections provided to employees of government contractors who raise the alarm on waste, fraud, and abuse. As a former State Auditor and prosecutor, McCaskill has consistently championed stronger protections for whistleblowers as a means to better fight waste and misconduct.
• Overhauling the federal government's planning, management, and oversight of contracting during overseas contingency operations. The provisions are largely taken from McCaskill's comprehensive Wartime Contracting legislation, introduced along with Senator Jim Webb (Va.) based on recommendations by the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting, itself created by a law passed by McCaskill and Webb and modeled on the World War II era Truman Committee.
• Instituting a lower cap on the amount of taxpayer money paid to executives of companies that contract with the government.
• Preventing enrollment fees on TRICARE medical insurance or increases in TRICARE deductibles for members of the military and their families. McCaskill has been a longtime opponent of raising TRICARE fees and has successfully lobbied for increased awareness and funding for soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injury and those affected by Post Traumatic Stress.
• Preventing the Air Force from moving forward on its proposed force structure changes of the Air Guard and Air Force Reserve.
• Providing additional coverage of fertility treatments for military members who may require such treatments due to chemotherapy, radiation or surgery in order to ensure military servicemembers who face loss of fertility due to medical treatments have a chance to preserve their ability to have children.
"The priorities for me in considering this defense policy bill were clear-doing right by our men and women in uniform and our military families while ensuring the careful use of taxpayer dollars at a time when the national debt is itself a national security problem. I'm proud of the bipartisan effort and cooperation that went into drafting this legislation, because doing the right thing for our servicemembers and the defense of our nation is a non-partisan issue."
The week began as McCaskill-an outspoken advocate for transparency-was once again successful in opening her panel's consideration of the defense policy bill to the public. McCaskill is the only Senator to hold any portion of the debate in public in the last 15 years.
"The public deserves to be able to witness, understand and scrutinize the positions being advocated and the decisions being made by their elected leaders regarding the over half a trillion dollar defense budget," said McCaskill, Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Readiness. "We continue to gain votes every year, and I firmly believe that open mark-ups in the full Armed Services Committee are coming in the future."
McCaskill has served on the Senate Armed Services Committee since coming to the Senate in 2006.
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