Udall Appointed to NDAA Conference Committee, Vows to Continue Working for Consensus on Detention Provisions to Prevent Presidential Veto
Defense Authorization Passes Senate; Bill will Help Military Save Money and Lives
Mark Udall released the following statement after voting last night with his Senate colleagues to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012. Udall was selected as a member of the conference committee that will finalize the bill.
“Last night, I cast my vote with extremely serious reservations, given my grave concerns about the provisions in this bill regarding military detention. Troubling questions have been raised by the Pentagon and the directors of national intelligence, the FBI and the CIA about how this new policy will impact our ability to track down, capture and bring terrorists to justice. I continue to oppose these provisions.
“After weighing all of the possible options, I decided to vote yes on the overall bill. As a member of the conference committee, I will continue to fight for a consensus that will protect our national security and the constitutional principles on which our nation was founded. The rest of this bill is vitally important to our military. I couldn’t in good conscience vote against legislation that means so much to Colorado and our men and women in uniform fighting in two wars.”
As a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, Udall helped to draft the critical bill and fought to include portions from his and Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s Department of Defense Energy Security Act (DODESA). Below is a summary of his five provisions included in the FY12 NDAA (to read more about them, click HERE):
• Authorize the Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP), which provides critical funding for novel and forward-thinking energy efficiency investments that ultimately provide a projected $4 million annual cost-savings to the DOD.
• Require Energy Metering Data to be Captured and Tracked at DOD Facilities to help the DOD fully utilize the information and make well-informed decisions in managing energy usage and saving taxpayer dollars.
• Set Interim Renewable Electricity Standards (RES) Goals to keep DOD accountable and ensure it attains those goals on time and in full.
• Identify Energy-Efficient Products and Technologies for use in DOD Facilities, such as “direct use solar technology.”
• Help Enhance Cyber Security on Military Installations to better respond in the event of failure or extended disruption in the commercial power grid.
Udall also pushed to add the following provisions and amendments to the FY12 NDAA:
• IRAN SANCTIONS
- Udall co-sponsored a bipartisan amendment that would impose new sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran by barring any U.S. financial institution from doing business with any foreign bank that knowingly conducts any significant transaction with the CBI. The amendment would also require the president to initiate a “multilateral diplomacy initiative” aimed at convincing other countries to stop purchasing oil from Iran.
UDALL: “We must make clear to Iran that support for terrorist activities will not be tolerated and will be met with dire consequences. This amendment levies strong and appropriate penalties on Iran while still protecting the world oil market.”
• GUARD EMPOWERMENT
- Udall co-sponsored an amendment that makes the Chief of the National Guard Bureau a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, elevates the Vice Chief of the Guard Bureau to a three-star billet, enhances the Guard’s representation at the senior levels of U.S. Northern Command, and helps clarify the disaster response command relationship among the Guard and the U.S. military commands.
UDALL: “The members of the National Guard are a vital part of our military at home and at war, and the leadership of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should reflect that fact. Over the past 10 years of war, Guard members served multiple tours overseas without question or complaint. We owe them a voice in critical national security decisions.”
• BURN PIT REGISTRY FOR VETERANS
- Udall co-sponsored an amendment to create a national registry of service members and veterans impacted by open air burn pits. The registry would help the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs determine to what extent air pollution from burn pits has led to medical diseases among service members, and help improve its communication with affected veterans.
UDALL: “A registry will allow the VA to collect information into a database that will help improve communication with and treatment for service members who have been exposed to toxic burn pits. We owe it to our veterans to make sure that they get the important health services they need when they come home.”
• CIVIL LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR SERVICE MEMBERS
- Udall co-sponsored an amendment to authorize the Department of Defense to spend up to $500,000 from its operations and maintenance budget to support programs that match service members who need legal representation with pro bono attorneys. The Justice for Troops Act (S.1106) allows troops to get legal assistance for civil legal problems such as child custody issues, complications with leases, mortgage payments or credit card debt with which JAGs are often unable to help.
UDALL: “Too often our service members and their families don’t have access to affordable legal services when they risk losing custody of their children, being evicted from their homes or facing financial ruin. We owe it to them to ensure that they have equal access to high-quality and timely services through our justice system.”
• SPURRING HELP FOR VETERANS’ PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH
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- Udall pushed for a provision to urge the DOD to speed research and authorization of Traumatic Brain Injury treatments for service members. The provision would shift the management of Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury to one of the service branches with a better understanding of TBI and the needs of wounded troops, allowing for faster processing and treatment.
UDALL: “Many of our troops are coming home with hidden wounds of war in numbers that are new and overwhelming for the support systems in place for our service members. We need to find better ways to make sure our veterans who suffer from problems like PTSD and TBI can get the care they need and deserve.”