WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today praised the Senate for its work on a bipartisan defense authorization bill in the midst of much gridlock on other issues. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 was approved by the Senate Thursday evening.
“I commend my colleagues for coming together before the end of the year to ensure that the men and women who so honorably defend our nation have the tools and the support they need to carry out their mission. Maryland is home to over 40 thousand active and reserve service members. These men and women have volunteered to defend our nation against all enemies foreign and domestic. This bill will improve the quality of life of more than two million men and women of the all-volunteer force and their families through fair compensation, policies and benefits, including first rate health care, and addresses the needs of the wounded, ill, and injured service members.
“I am pleased that we were able to include my amendment on Service Contract Spending, which is crucial as it will extend the current cap on DoD service contract spending, which expired at the end of FY13. I am also pleased that my amendment on urotrauma was adopted. This amendment directs DoD to address the prevention, care coordination, and research of urotrauma. More than 10% of blast injuries in Operation Enduring Freedom have resulted in some degree of urotrauma. This amendment is a critical step to improving care for some of our most gravely injured troops.
“Any bipartisan bill that comes forward always requires compromise. In this case, there was insufficient time to consider worthy amendments, including many of my own. I will be looking for future opportunities to bring forward these items and others:
- Asia-Pacific Maritime Security. In light of recent Chinese actions regarding air space, my measure would have reinforced the need for universal application of international law. It would have encouraged cooperative arrangements for the responsible exploitation of energy and fish resources and stipulated that these should not impinge on sovereignty claims and should be negotiated in a mutually agreeable manner.
- Global Magnitsky. My language would have expanded the Russia-specific sanctions for gross violators of human rights under the Magnitsky Act.
- Vietnam Education Project. Working with Senators McCain and Whitehouse, we sought to authorize the Secretary of State to award grants to support the establishment of an independent not-for-profit higher education institution in Vietnam. It would have expanded undergraduate and graduate level teaching and research programs in a range of fields including but limited to public policy, management, and engineering.
“NDAA that is not a Democratic bill or a Republican bill, but bipartisan legislation to provide defense for our nation. The NDAA is the key mechanism to provide necessary authorities and funding for America’s military.”