Durbin, Coats, Gardner, McCain, Mikulski

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Senator Durbin: (10:04 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "For example, the second-largest investment in breast cancer research is in the U.S. Department of Defense, and there are dramatic stories to be told about what they have discovered and what they have been able to do in the Department of Defense. The suggestion that we should eliminate this research, to me, is a very bad one, and it doesn't reflect the reality of the fright, concern that comes with a diagnosis of breast cancer. I'm prepared for that battle not just on breast cancer but on all the other areas of medical research in the Department of Defense as well as medical research in the National Institutes of Health. If there is one issue that should unite us, Democrats and Republicans, it's medical research. I will tell you the people I represent in Illinois, regardless of party affiliation, believe that we in both political parties should be making this commitment."


Senator Coats: (10:15 AM)

  • Spoke on Waste of the Week.
    • "In fact, since its creation, the special inspector for Afghanistan has undertaken 324 investigations. He's a busy man. And has contracted for over $571 million of misspent taxpayer dollars. And this is just in Afghanistan. As you know, we have operations around the world. When we total all this up, who knows what that final number is? I am happy to report that while these numbers are disturbing, there is also progress being made. The special investigator for Afghanistan that I have referred to has made over 200 recommendations for reforms and over 160 of those recommendations have been adopted by the Department of Defense, trying to help safeguard federal dollars. And so I don't want to leave the impression that something isn't being done about this. Nevertheless, it is important that we bring these things to light so that we can put procedures in place that will prevent them from happening again. Also, I'm pleased that title 8 of the bill that we are now debating on this floor, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016, directly addresses defense acquisition policy and management and would make several reforms to the contracting process, so action is being taken."
  • Spoke on ObamaCare.
    • "C.B.O. estimates a 1% reduction in total pay over the same time frame as a result of ObamaCare. Without credibility and all the promises that have been made, so defiantly made by the president. Take my word for it. Period, he said. Not one penny of increase in your premium cost. Keep your doctor. If you like your doctor, keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, keep your health care plan. Whatever misrepresentation of the bill this has been. I have received tens of thousands of contacts in my office by e-mail, by regular mail, by phone calls, by descriptions of the impact that this law has had and the broken promises that have imposed higher premiums, higher co-pays, higher deductibles, higher costs to the American people. So we anxiously await the decision of the Supreme Court which will be coming in several weeks here or less to see where we go next."


Senator Gardner: (10:44 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "This amendment would require the president to submit a comprehensive strategy within 120 days to promote United States interest in the Asia-pacific region. Similar language was already placed in the House version of the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment would ensure that the U.S. government is effectively marshaling resources and employing a whole of government approach to implement an effective multifaceted engagement policy in the Endo-Asia pacific region. This region is vital to the United States national interests. For generations to come and the administration's Asia pivot or rebalance policy was intended to reflect that. Again, this is something the administration has talked about for years, this Asia rebalance or Asia pivot. But currently the administration does not seem to have such a comprehensive strategy or approach that seamlessly incorporates U.S. military, diplomatic and commercial activities to make the rebalance an effective policy."


Senator McCain: (11:00 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • ""Wall Street Journal," Iraq city of Mosul transformed a year after Islamic State's capture. And I mentioned before ISIS stage attacks in Iraq and Libya despite U.S. airstrikes. And it goes on and on. Meanwhile, the president of the United States will according to media reports, announce today we will send 400 or so more to Iraq, none of which is accompanied by a strategy, none of which is accompanied by forward air controllers so we will continue to see 75% of the combat missions flown return to base without having discharged their weapons, since we have no one on the ground to identify targets. This is instrumentalism at its best or worst, depending on how you describe it. Today I hope we will be able to take some additional amendments. We have a managers' package getting prepared and I believe that Senator Reed and I are moving forward with some amendments that we can have debated and also voted on today."


Senator Mikulski: (11:17 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "Think of a child that has cerebral palsy, think of a child that might have multiple complications that might require the child to be on a continual respirator. All of these things go on with the stresses of being also a military family. Certainly we can keep the commissaries open so that they can get the food that they need for their family and hours that then work for them. This is what the real life of the military is. And I remember after Desert Storm where the Appropriations Committee met under the leadership of Senators Byrd and Senator Ted Stevens asking General Schwarzkopf what did he need in an after-action report. Said, we need better intelligence, and we worked really hard to up-grade where we are. And he said, we also need better food. We need better food. We need better food for our troops and people need to believe that their families are being taken care of while they're in harm's way."