Bradley Byrne: Defense bill offers strong response to Orlando shooting

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The recent terrorist attack in Orlando was a strike at each and every American. My heart breaks for every person involved, and especially for the family and friends of those who lost their lives.

There is no room for hate in America, and this ugly crime was the result of a coward following his own hate. It doesn’t matter what the source of that hate was — it was and is an affront to God himself.

In the days that followed the attack, we learned more about the shooter, including his background and motives. We learned that he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). We also found out that he had been on the radar of federal investigators in the past because of his radical Islamic leanings.

This information and the attack further reaffirm the need to have a strong military that can adequately defeat these radical Islamic terrorists overseas. If we continue to let their reign of terror spread across the Middle East, these kind of attacks will become more and more likely right here at home.

Following the Orlando attack, I found it fitting the House passed the annual Defense Appropriations Act. This bill provides funding for our nation’s military and ensures our troops have the tools they need to keep us safe. Let me share a few highlights of the bill with you.

The bill contains $58.6 billion for the Global War on Terrorism. This money goes directly to our service members stationed in the Middle East and helps us support our allies in the region as they fight against radical Islamic terrorists.

The bill makes important investments in military readiness by providing for equipment procurement for each of the service branches while also putting money aside for maintenance and repairs to current equipment.

The Defense Appropriations Act includes funding to ensure our military receives a 2.1 percent pay raise. Members of the Armed Forces put their lives on the line each and every day, and it only makes sense that they are appropriately compensated. It is also important that our military pay and benefits remain strong if we are going to continue recruiting the best and the brightest to serve.

The bill also includes funding for the Defense Health Program, which provides care for our troops while also spurring investment in important areas like traumatic brain injury care, cancer research, suicide prevention programs, and sexual assault prevention.

Of particular interest to our area, the bill includes funding for three more Littoral Combat Ships. These are the ships built by Austal USA in Mobile, which employs over 4,000 men and women.

I also offered an amendment that was included in the bill to prohibit the Department of Defense from using any funding to construct or modify facilities to house illegal migrant children. This issue is especially important to Southwest Alabama because the Obama Administration is currently considering a plan to house migrant children from Central America at two Navy airfields in Baldwin County.

Ultimately, the Defense Appropriations Act passed the House by a strong bipartisan vote of 282 to 138.

If we are going to prevent future attacks like the one in Orlando, then we must defeat the radical Islamic terrorists who wish to do us harm. In order to do that, a strong military is required.

The Defense Appropriations Act will help ensure our military has the tools they need to defeat terrorism, and I was proud to support it.

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Bradley Byrne is a member of U.S. Congress representing Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

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