WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the improved National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was approved by the Senate today an “imperfect but necessary measure to support our military men and women and national security.” The Senate also approved the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act.
“The men and women of America’s military need to know that Congress is there to support them while on active duty, reserves and when they return to civilian life. Passing more fiscally responsible spending bills that invest in our troops, veterans and their families, while maintaining U.S. global leadership, hopefully marks the beginning of a larger process of bringing stability and predictability to our federal budget and appropriations. I was pleased to see amendments to the NDAA that minimized the over-reliance on budget gimmicks to make the numbers fit. I was proud to offer an amendment that was included to evaluate the effectiveness of the Department of Defense Working Capital Fund, an important resource for Maryland small businesses, contractors and communities that work to support our military and their mission. I am hopeful that the funds dedicated to our wounded warriors and all our veterans will further expedite their access to quality medical care and benefits earned during their service to our nation.
“I am extremely disappointed that this legislation makes it more difficult to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility by placing counterproductive restrictions on the transfer or release of detainees. It is long past time to close the detention facility at Guantánamo, which continues to be a blight on America’s human rights leadership around the world and against our national security interests, and is a waste of taxpayer dollars. I welcomed the report just issued by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights that calls on the U.S. to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, and to either bring the remaining detainees to trial on formal charges, or repatriate or resettle detainees designated for transfer or release. Opponents have ignored the reality that we have a successful track record of prosecuting, convicting, and imprisoning the most dangerous terrorists in U.S. courts. Detainees should be formally charged and tried in civilian or military courts, as appropriate. I encourage the Obama Administration to quickly submit a comprehensive plan to Congress that would close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility once and for all.”