I have taken several votes in support of robust funding for programs that provide our current service members with the care and protection they deserve. Specifically, I have consistently supported a well-deserved 2.3% pay raise for our military men and women in addition to full and robust funding for troop housing. I am proud to support the brave men and women serving in our Armed Forces and will continue to be their staunch advocate while here in the Congress.
Additionally, during consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 NDAA, the House unanimously passed my bipartisan amendment to cut off funds to any so-called ‘friendly rebels’ in Iraq and Syria who make a mockery of our good intentions by misusing American arms and resources. This legislation adds a tough new layer of accountability to the $1.3 billion fund the Pentagon uses to train and equip rebels believed to be supporting the U.S. It has become clear that we have no real friends in these conflicts where we have ended up on every side, and where the weapons we send to various groups more often than not end up being used against us.
During consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Appropriations bill I offered an amendment to stop funding the Iraq Train and Equip program and apply $715 million to deficit reduction. Additionally, teaming up with my Republican colleague, Rep. Curt Clawson of Florida, we offered an amendment to defund the Syria Train and Equip Program of $600 million and apply that money to reduce the deficit.
While both bipartisan amendments were defeated, it's important to note that they received about a third of their votes from Republicans – more than we ever would have received in past years. Moreover, both the Chairman and the Ranking Democratic Member of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee praised our intent – and were clear that they share many of our deep concerns. Other colleagues expressed similar feelings privately. We will keep pressing efforts to stop U.S. weapons and training for Iraq, Syria and the rest of the Middle East until we have the majority we need.
Click here for more information on my work to support our nation's veterans.
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