With Alabama delegation support, House passes sweeping defense bill compromise

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With the support of all but one member of the Alabama delegation, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a compromise $612 billion annual defense authorization bill Thursday.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 conference report, legislation correcting differences between the House and Senate, passed with a vote of 270 to 156. The NDAA authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and among other provisions includes a pay raise for troops, overhauling the military retirement system, which is currently only available to the 17 percent of service members who serve 20 plus years, and reworking the Pentagon’s acquisition system to improve efficiency and avoid cost overruns.

The afternoon vote, largely along party lines, saw just 36 Democrats support the legislation, putting the final tally just 20 votes shy of being able to override a very possible presidential veto.

Less than 24 hours before the vote, the White House reiterated President Barack Obama‘s veto threat. The president’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, called the NDAA an “irresponsible way to fund our national defense priorities.”

But Alabama congressman, Bradley Bryne disagrees.

On the House floor Thursday morning, Byrne delivered a passionate speech regarding the NDAA, “…let’s just take a quick look at what all is going on in the world today. From Syria to Iraq to the Pacific to Iran to Russia, the list goes on and on. Look at the wide range of threats facing our nation. And for our President – our Commander-in-Chief – to threaten to veto this bipartisan bill is simply reprehensible.”

Among other supporters from Alabama delegation was Rep. Mike Rogers.

“We worked long and hard on this crucial piece of legislation,” said Rogers, a conferee who helped reconcile the House and Senate bills. “I am proud it passed the House with my strong support and am pleased our military is funded to help keep our nation safe.”

As a conferee, Rogers worked to ensure language similar to an amendment he introduced in the House — to allow the Army to transfer its surplus vintage firearms, the excess M1911A1 pistols, to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) to sale — was included in the Conference Report.

Another key provision for the Yellowhammer state was the inclusion of language that would prohibit furloughs at Working Capital Fund facilities — such as the Anniston Army Depot, which is one of the largest employers in East Alabama — as long as there was funded workload.

“I am very pleased with the CMP amendment and the inclusion of the language to take care of the Depot. I hope the Senate will quickly pass this legislation so it can go to President Obama to be signed into law,” Rogers continued.

Reps. Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Martha Roby (AL-02), Mike Rogers (AL-03), Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Mo Brooks (AL-05), Gary Palmer (AL-06) voted in for the bill. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) voted against it.

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