Cornyn: Senate Passes Defense Authorization Package After Months of Partisan Hold-Up

--Includes Cornyn-Backed Measures to Boost Wounded Warrior Care at BAMC-

WASHINGTON-U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which authorizes critical funding for U.S. troops serving overseas, improvements to military health care, and national security operations under the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Energy.

"Support for our men and women in uniform and their families should never be politicized the way it has been in recent months. Our troops make every sacrifice on behalf of our security and well-being; the very least we can do is a send a unified message of support from the Congress with no political strings attached. I'm thankful partisans in the Senate finally put politics aside and approved this important authorization bill to ensure our military personnel are receiving the best in care, equipment, and benefits. Most importantly, this bill authorizes record funding for military health care-a top priority for the brave men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan."

The bill includes important provisions that directly assist facilities like Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in helping our men and women in uniform make a smooth and seamless transition from military medical care to VA care and civilian life. These provisions stem from the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act, legislation Sen. Cornyn cosponsored to help relieve some of the difficulties that wounded service members and their families face as they go through recovery and rehabilitation, and assist them in planning for their future.

"Having seen firsthand the quality of work being done at Brooke Army Medical Center, I can attest to the hospital's reputation as a national leader in military care. The tailored care the center provides to our wounded warriors is second to none, and essential in helping these brave men and women transition to civilian life. The defense authorization package approved today will directly assist Brooke Army Medical Center in continuing its mission to provide state-of-the-art services and rehabilitative care to our servicemen and women."

Details on provisions to assist wounded warriors:

  • Requires DOD and the Department of Veterans Affairs to jointly develop policies on care, management, and transition of recovering troops in outpatient status
  • Expands treatment and research for some of the signature injuries of the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder

Authorizations for Texas-specific defense programs:

  • Authorizes funding for several programs that are critical for our national defense, such as the Joint Strike Fighter, F-22 Raptor and the V-22 Osprey aircraft.

Other Key Provisions in the Defense Authorization Act:

  • Provides a 3.5 percent across-the-board pay raise for all uniformed personnel, a half a percent more than the President's request;
  • Authorizes $135 billion for military personnel, including costs of pay, allowances, bonuses, death benefits, and permanent change of station moves;
  • Adds $4 billion to the President's budget for mine resistant vehicles to protect our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan;
  • Authorizes $24.6 billion in funding for our military healthcare systems.