From serving our country to manufacturing the defense products we need to keep our country safe, the 12th Congressional District plays an important role in America’s national security. This week was very important for many of the programs that impact our district, as the House worked on both the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act and the defense appropriations bill.
The National Defense Authorization Act creates a blueprint for the defense programs and equipment that can be funded by Congress. I am glad to report that this bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Friday. Once the Senate passes its own defense authorization bill, both chambers will come together to negotiate the differences and then send it on to the President for his signature.
I joined Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA) in proposing an amendment to the bill that would require the administration to sell Taiwan no less than 66 F-16 aircraft, which are manufactured in Fort Worth. This amendment is critical to our Pacific ally in order for them to maintain their air defense as China becomes a larger security risk in the region. My amendment passed by voice vote and was included in the House’s final bill.
Additionally, I joined Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT) in introducing an amendment to stop the Defense Department from purchasing equipment from Russia, who continues to arm Assad’s regime in Syria. American tax dollars should never be sent to those who play a supporting role in the death of innocent civilians while also jeopardizing the security of our key regional allies, including Israel. This amendment passed unanimously.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I also worked on a second defense bill this week – the defense appropriations bill, which decides funding levels for all of our defense programs. This bill was passed out of the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday and will be voted on by the full House in the coming weeks.
This year’s defense appropriations bill includes critical funding for a number of programs that are very important to both our national security and our district. For example, the legislation funds 29 Joint Strike Fighters, which are manufactured in our district. The bill also funds the V-22, H-1 upgrade and Kiowa Warrior programs. I am so proud our congressional district has the very best skilled workers building equipment that is vital to our national security.
While more must be done to combat sexual assault in the military, this bill begins to address the issue by fully funding the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. It also provides funding for a Special Victims Council pilot program. This will require written justification for changing sentences and establishes a mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted of sexual assault. Many of the provisions included in the bill were from legislation that I introduced.
Since our national security partially depends on the security of our key allies, the bill provides funding for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile program. The program has saved thousands of Israeli lives and has likely prevented an escalation of tensions between Israel and its neighbors.
I will continue to fight to strengthen our district’s contribution to America’s security as these bills move closer to the President’s desk. I will keep you updated as these bills continue to move forward.
Member of Congress