Congressman Garamendi Supports Travis and Beale Air Force Bases in Defense Bill Debate
WASHINGTON, DC – Early this morning, the House Armed Services Committee completed consideration of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03) voted in favor of the bill. The legislation was voted out of Committee 61-0 and awaits a vote on the House Floor in the next few weeks.
“This legislation is very important for the military communities in my district. I am glad we were able to develop a bipartisan bill to provide for a smart and strong defense,” said Congressman Garamendi. “While every bill can be improved, this legislation is a good step forward.”
Supporting Travis and Beale Air Force Bases
Throughout the process, Congressman Garamendi has supported the vital missions at Travis and Beale Air Force bases, which are both located in the 3rd Congressional District. Travis is located in Fairfield and carries out an Air Mobility mission. Beale, located near Marysville, carries out an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission.
“The work of Travis and Beale Airmen is crucial for America’s 21st Century national defense. The ability to rapidly collect intelligence and deploy defense assets is key to advancing our national interests: winning on the battlefield, preventing conflicts, and responding to humanitarian disasters,” Congressman Garamendi said. “In promoting the interests of the bases, my office has an excellent partner in the Solano and Yuba/Sutter communities. I am grateful for their support.”
Faced with Congress’s constraining austerity budgets, the President’s Budget proposed phasing out the KC-10 tanker and the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, which are based at Travis and Beale respectively. Congressman Garamendi inserted NDAA language that would prevent the premature retirement of these aircraft (click here for text of this language and click here for text of the entire NDAA). This language was included in the “Chairman’s Mark” of the NDAA and the amended version voted out of Committee.
“I am proud to support language in the NDAA that would prevent a dangerous capability gap in our Air Mobility and ISR missions,” said Garamendi. “We can’t put the cart before the horse by retiring the KC-10 before the KC-46 is ready to meet our Air Mobility needs. Similarly, the top commander for American troops in South Korea, Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, recently testified before Congress and said that the U-2 is essential for knowing what the North Korean regime is doing – just one example of how the information the U-2 provides strengthens our national defense and saves lives.”
Congressmen Garamendi and Jon Runyan (R-NJ-03) introduced bipartisan legislation that would prevent gaps in the Air Mobility mission with the transition from KC-10 to KC-46 tankers. Garamendi is co-chair of the bipartisan Air Mobility Caucus with Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS-04).
Garamendi also added language to emphasize the critical and complementary capabilities that High Altitude ISR assets such as the Global Hawk Block 30 and the U-2 provide to combatant commanders. These highly specialized platforms and the Airmen at Beale who support the overall ISR capability play a vital role in executing U.S. defense strategy. The language also speaks to the capability of the KC-10 Extender (click here for the text).
Increasing Oversight of Pentagon Spending
Congressman Garamendi offered several proposals to look for ways to eliminate wasteful Pentagon spending on projects that do not advance America’s national security. The Committee failed to accept his commonsense proposals to evaluate the nuclear triad, B-61 gravity bomb in Europe, and the far over budget MOX facility in South Carolina. However, the Committee did adopt Garamendi’s amendments to direct the Department of Defense to provide the defense committees with briefings on the justification for both the Long-Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO) and the requirement to reach a 50-80 new plutonium pits per year. Additionally, the Committee incorporated his proposals to direct increased oversight and accountability of money spent on the war in Afghanistan.
“There is agreement across the political spectrum that there is waste in the Pentagon budget that comes at the expense of critical defense missions, job creating investments in education and infrastructure, and responsible deficit reduction. My proposals aim to address the most glaring examples of waste: outdated Cold War era nuclear weapon systems and massive corruption in Afghanistan. I am glad that we reached common ground on some of these proposals,” said Garamendi.
Highlights of the NDAA
The NDAA would:
- Increase troop pay by 1.8%;
- Reject proposals to reduce military commissary benefits (Garamendi is a cosponsor of the Save Our Military Shopping Benefits Act, which also prevents reductions in this earned benefit);
- Combat sexual assault in the military through a variety of bipartisan proposals. The bill would eliminate the “good soldier defense” – a consideration of general military character toward the probability of innocence in sexual assault prosecutions. It would also call for a review of the terms of discharge for those who are victims of sexual offenses, to ensure that they have not been persecuted for reporting crimes. Victims would also be consulted as to their preference for prosecuting offenders by court-martial or through civilian courts; and
- Increase funding for behavioral and psychological health programs to address the scourge of suicides within the military.