The 111th Congress has returned to work in its last “lame duck” session. Often lame duck sessions mean little more than just showing up for a few days and then turning off the lights. During this lame duck, however, the Congress has serious work it must accomplish, and how much gets finished will have enormous impact on our Army and our Soldiers’ Families.
Congressional work will take place while our nation remains at war and is moving into its tenth year of combat. Our troops are still deploying repeatedly to Iraq and Afghanistan. Recent actions by North Korea and Iran demonstrate that peace in other areas is tenuous at best.
I realize that in the current environment of enormous deficits and proposals to cut federal spending, defense is a tempting target. However, as I have said many times before, the defense base budget is less than 4 percent of gross domestic product and our active duty force is a third smaller than it was during the 1980s when we were not fighting two wars. Cutting defense spending, end strength and force structure will not balance the budget, but it will make our nation more vulnerable in an increasingly dangerous world.
I have contacted the senior leaders in both houses to urge action during this lame duck session on legislative issues ranging from readiness and end strength funding to quality of life proposals. Our defense forces should not be forced to exist in the limbo of “continuing resolution” funding until the next Congress convenes. AUSA urges Congress to act NOW, not later to accomplish the following
- Pass Fiscal Year 2011 Defense Authorization legislation that will among other things continue recruiting and retention bonuses, increase end strength and fund impact aid for the education of military dependent children
- Pass Fiscal Year 2011 Defense Appropriations legislation that will provide a pay increase for troops, as well as improved access to mental health care and expansion of suicide prevention programs
- Pass long term legislation that will prevent a 23 percent cut in Medicare (and TRICARE) reimbursement to physicians
Add your voice to ours and help get needed funding to our Soldiers. Go to the AUSA website, www.ausa.org, click on “Legislative Agenda”, then click on “Contact Congress”, type in your zip code beside “Elected Officials” and scroll down to “Pass the FY 2011 Defense Appropriations and Authorization Bills Now!” and “Prevent the 23 percent cut in Medicare/TRICARE payments”.