Congressman Garamendi’s Statement on Passage of Iraq Amendment and Defense Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03), who is a Member of the House Armed Services and whose district is home to Travis and Beale Air Force bases, voted in favor of the Defense Appropriations Bill. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 340-73. Congressman Garamendi and Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-01) successfully added a major amendment to the bill that would require the Administration to seek the advice and consent of Congress before sustained military action in Iraq. The Garamendi-Hanabusa amendment passed the House by a unanimous voice vote.
Iraq and NSA Amendments
“Across the political spectrum, there is strong opposition to America entering a third Iraq War, and I share this view,” said Congressman Garamendi. “There is deep concern that a slippery slope could land us in the middle of Iraq’s civil war. As elected Representatives, we must have a serious debate about our actions there. With this vote, the People’s House took their responsibility seriously by reasserting that only Congress can send U.S. forces to war.”
The amendment reads in full: "None of the funds made available by this Act may be used with respect to Iraq in contravention of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.), including for the introduction of United States forces into hostilities in Iraq, into situations in Iraq where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, or into Iraqi territory, airspace, or waters while equipped for combat, in contravention of the congressional consultation and reporting requirements of sections 3 and 4 of such Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1542 and 1543)."
The House also passed an amendment from Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) that prevents funding for the NSA to conduct warrantless searches of Americans’ email, Internet, and phone communications
“This amendment is an important bipartisan step toward restoring the basic privacy rights of American citizens,” said Garamendi.
Travis and Beale Air Force Bases
“Travis Air Force Base carries out an Air Mobility Mission that is vital for our military to deploy assets around the world at a moment’s notice. It also serves as our ‘Gateway to the Pacific,’ which is increasingly important during our strategic shift to this region. Beale Air Force Base focuses on Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, providing the eyes in the sky that are at the forefront of our national security strategy,” said Garamendi. “I am in constant consultation with the bases’ surrounding communities to ensure our servicemembers and Defense Department civilians have the tools to carry out their missions. This Defense Appropriations Bill recognizes the importance of their work.”
Yesterday, Congressman Garamendi held a meeting of the Air Mobility Caucus, which he co-chairs with Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS-04). The meeting featured Major General Maryanne Miller, Deputy Chief of the Air Force Reserve, and Brigadier General James C. Witham, Deputy Director, Air National Guard. Among many other concerns regarding the role of Air National Guard and Reserve Airmen in the Mobility Air Forces, participants discussed the reserve component’s role in the basing of the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker.
The House Defense Appropriations Bill has report language that warns against the premature retiring of the KC-10 tanker, which is based at Travis, until the KC-46 is ready. Earlier this year, Garamendi introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent this capability gap.
The Defense Appropriations Bill also provides $77 million for KC-10 avionics upgrades, which is $43 million more than the Administration’s Budget. It also provides $2.4 billion in procurement and development funds for the KC-46.
The bill has report language that warns against premature retirement of the U2. It also highlights the complimentary roles of the U2 and the Global Hawk, which the lead commander for American troops in South Korea has said is crucial to intelligence operations on the peninsula. Beale Air Force Base, which carries out an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission, is home to both planes.
The Defense Appropriations Bill:
- Provides a 1.8 percent pay raise for the military.
- Contains funding to continue to pay for 100 percent of troop housing costs through the Basic Allowance for Housing.
- Increases funding for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs by $50 million above the FY 2014 level, bringing total funding to $275 million.
- Withholds 75 percent of the appropriation for electronic health records until the Department of Defense submits a plan to Congress for achieving interoperability between the electronic health record systems of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, including the scope, cost, schedule, and performance benchmarks of the interoperable record.
- Bars the use of funds for the National Security Agency (NSA) to target U.S. citizens under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as updated in 2008 (PL 110-261).
- Prohibits funding for contracts, agreements, grants, loans or other agreements with the Russian state-owned Rosoboronexport company unless certain conditions are met – including a prohibition on Rosoboronexport contracts with Syria, a requirement that Russia withdraws armed forces from Ukraine, and a requirement that contracts be competitively bid.
- Retains important Buy America provisions that have been included in previous Defense Appropriations bills.
- Provides $220 million to establish a program to develop a made-in-America liquid-fueled rocket engine for satellite and other launch needs.