Wilson Opening Statement for Military Personnel Subcommittee Markup of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

May 4, 2011
Press Release

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, today released the following opening statement for the subcommittee’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012:

                                  

“The Chairman’s mark in front of you is the product of an open, bipartisan process.  As we begin, we are grateful for the professionalism of our SEALS in killing the mass murderer, Osama bin Laden.  It is a proud day for all Americans, especially our military, their families, and veterans.

“At this time, I will highlight some of the more significant recommendations contained in the mark.

“The mark provides for a 1.6 percent increase in military basic pay.

“It sets policy for measuring and reporting unit operations tempo and personnel tempo, reflecting the Committee’s continuing concern about stresses on the force and proposed reductions in military personnel, especially at a time when we must continue our resolve for victory in the current mission requirements.

“Another initiative important to me is reform of the military recruiting system to include graduates of home schooling and virtual schools.  I see military service as an opportunity and very fulfilling—and these are extraordinary patriots.

“The mark makes reductions in the numbers of general and flag officers to complement the administrative reductions directed by the Secretary of Defense.

“Furthermore, the mark consolidates and clarifies the legal authority for the administration and oversight of Arlington National Cemetery.

“I believe the mark is strong in the multiple provisions dealing with sexual assault, child custody, mental health, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Finally, the mark includes a one-year prohibition on any increase in TRICARE Prime fees.  I want to do more but the challenge of finding mandatory spending offsets limited what I could achieve. I am sure there will be more discussion of this issue at the full committee mark-up, but I strongly believe military retirees have made significant down payments through their dedicated service to the Nation.  In view of that service, it is not right for the Nation to ask them to pay more for the health care to which they are entitled as all citizens are being personally challenged financially by rising gas prices.

“In conclusion, I want to thank Mrs. Davis and her staff for their contributions and support in this process.  Of course, we are joined by an active, informed, and dedicated set of subcommittee members.  Their recommendations and priorities are clearly reflected in this mark.

“Additionally, I appreciate the dedication of the Subcommittee majority staff:  John Chapla, Jeanette James, Mike Higgins, Craig Greene, and Jim Weiss.  Before we get to consideration of the mark, I want to recognize Mrs. Davis for any remarks she might want to make.”