The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the annual defense policy bill that authorizes spending for military personnel, weapons systems, national security programs, and foreign military operations by a vote of 277 to 147. This is the second National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to be passed under local U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry’s (R-Clarendon) chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee.
“This bill stops cuts to our Armed Forces, provides a pay raise for our troops, and makes major reforms in several critical areas including military health care, the commissary system, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the acquisition system,” Thornberry said. “The legislation seeks to ensure that we do not deploy troops who are not fully trained, whose equipment is worn out, and who did not get the resources they needed back home to be ready to face our enemies overseas.”
The bill authorizes nearly $610 billion in spending for national defense. Locally, the bill also includes funding for national security facilities including training missions at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, about $2.8 billion total for Bell’s V-22 Osprey and helicopter programs including the procurement of 18 new Ospreys and 26 new AH-1Z / UH-1Y helicopters for the Marine Corps. Much of the work for those aircraft will be performed in Amarillo.
It also provides $9.6 billion in funding for nuclear weapons activities—including those performed at Pantex—which is a $316 million increase to the budget request. To help address the severe backlog of maintenance on physical infrastructure across the National Nuclear Security Administration, the bill provides $120 million specifically for recapitalization projects and an additional $30 million for preventative maintenance. The bill also includes $717 million for defense nuclear security, an increase of $60 million to the budget request, to recapitalize aging physical security equipment located at Pantex and Y-12.
The NDAA improves access to quality care for service members, retirees, and their families, while enhancing medical readiness. Reforms ensure that the generous benefit our troops deserve and have earned is sustainable for generations to come. These reforms make no changes for the current force or retirees.
Opioids, often used to suppress pain, can become addicting for many Americans, including adolescents, veterans, and pregnant women. The number of deaths related to opioid overdose quadrupled to 28,647 between 2000 and 2014. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated 15 million Americans abused prescription drugs during the past year.
“This abuse of opioids has really become epidemic,” said Thornberry. “Statistics show that one in five Americans have a family member who has become dependent upon these pain killers, both prescription and illegal narcotics. With strong bipartisan support, Congress voted to remove bureaucracy and provide more tools to deal with this crisis.”
You can download video interview footage for news purposes on this issue by clicking here.
The bills passed this week that were combined into a final package include:
· H.R. 4063, the “Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act,” would improve opioid management in treating veterans;
· H.R. 4985, the “Kingpin Designation Improvement Act of 2016,” would target international drug trafficking in the U.S.;
· S. 32, the “Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015,” would provide the Department of Justice with additional tools to target extraterritorial drug trafficking activity;
· H.R 5048, the “Good Samaritan Assessment Act of 2016,” would protect first responders from liability law that could interfere with emergency treatment of opioid overdoses;
· H.R. 5052, the “OPEN Act,” would require an evaluation of the effectiveness of grant programs that address opioid abuse;
· H.R 4843, the “Improving Safe Care for the Prevention of Infant Abuse and Neglect Act,” would strengthen safeguards and state abuse programs as a condition of receiving a federal grant for child abuse or neglect prevention;
· H.R. 4978, the “NAS Healthy Babies Act,” would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to submit a report to Congress on neonatal abstinence syndrome in the U.S. and its treatment under Medicaid;
· H.R. 3680, the “Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act of 2016,” would allow the Secretary of HHS to carry out a five-year grant program for co-prescribing opioid overdose reversal drugs;
· H.R. 3691, the “Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act of 2016,” would reauthorize residential treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women and establish a pilot program to develop models for treating women with substance abuse;
· H.R. 1818, the “Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2016,” would streamline the process for veterans with military emergency medical training to become civilian emergency medical technicians;
· H.R. 4969, the “John Thomas Decker Act of 2016,” would direct the Centers for Disease Control to provide educational materials to help prevent addiction in adolescents who are injured playing sports;
· H.R. 4586, “Lali’s Law,” would increase access to the lifesaving opioid antidote;
· H.R. 4599, the “Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016,” would permit partial fillings of certain prescriptions;
· H.R. 4976, the “Opioid Review Modernization Act of 2016,” would require new opioids to be referred to an advisory committee at the Food and Drug Administration prior to approval;
· H.R. 4982, the “Examining Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Act of 2016,” would require a GAO report on the inpatient and outpatient treatment capacity in the U.S.;
· H.R. 4981, the “Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act,”would increase the number of patients a qualified practitioner could treat for opioid use disorder;
· H.R. 4641 provides for the establishment of an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and updated best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and for other purposes; and
· H.R. 5046, the “Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act of 2016,” would establish grants awarded to state and local governments to provide opioid abuse services.
The House and Senate will now move to a conference to negotiate the differences between their respective versions of the bill.Read More
“I am very grateful for this award, but the real credit belongs to the men and women who serve or have served and their families,” Thornberry said. “Our job is to support them, and I appreciate MOAA’s role in advocating for our people and our national security.”
MOAA is the nation's largest and most influential association of active duty, National Guard, Reserve, retired and former military officers and their families and survivors. The association annually recognizes individuals or organizations that strongly support service members and their families.
“As chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Thornberry has shown consistent, strong leadership in supporting personnel, compensation and healthcare programs for the military community,” said retired Air Force General Tony Robertson, MOAA chairman of the board. “He is a true champion for those that wear and have worn the uniform, and their families.”
Col. Arthur T. Marix founded MOAA in 1929 and served as the association's first president until 1944. MOAA has awarded the Marix award since 1997.
You can download photos of the event by clicking here.
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A fifth generation Texan, Mac Thornberry has strong ties to the people he serves in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mac is a lifelong resident of the 13th District of Texas. His family has been ranching in the area since 1881 – a family business in which Mac remains actively involved.
Mac shares the values of the people he represents and continues to fight for the things that are important to them. He is a longtime advocate of lower taxes and limited government. Boosting domestic energy production, protecting private property rights, and reforming health care are top priorities for Mac. He strongly supports cutting government spending and creating the kind of policies that encourage economic growth, rather than suffocating it. Additionally, as one of the few Members of Congress personally involved in agriculture, Mac understands the challenges agricultural producers face and has been a key player in efforts to support producers in the 13th District.
Mac’s wife, Sally, is also a native Texan. They have two children.
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Thornberry on the shooting in Dallas https://t.co/yI6lx02yzl