Friday, December 17, 2010

Westmoreland Votes in Favor of Pay Raise for Troops, Funding for Pentagon

Language in the Defense Department Authorization Bill Also Provides for Columbus Veteran to Receive Much-Deserved Distinguished-Service Cross

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for 2011, a bill that will provide funding for the Department of Defense for the 2011 fiscal year. This legislation was devoid of controversial language repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ or providing funding for abortions in military hospitals contained in the Senate version. Congressman Westmoreland supported the bill.

“I am pleased the House was finally able to pass a clean Defense Department authorization bill,” stated Westmoreland. “Not only does this bill include a much-deserved pay raise for our military personnel, it also increases funding for much-needed missile defense and additional funding for our troops serving on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. If there is one thing we must do in Congress, it is to make sure our military receives the necessary funding to keep our troops as safe and secure as possible and keep Americans safe from harm.”

The bill also awarded Captain James C. Copley from Columbus, Georgia, the Distinguished-Service Cross for his acts of valor on May 5, 1968 as commander of Company C of the 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry, attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade during an engagement with a regimental-size enemy force in Bin Dinh Province, South Vietnam. The army has a three year limitation on awarding Distinguished-Service Cross, so an act of Congress was needed to ensure Captain Copley received his deserved honor. Congressman Westmoreland worked with Senator Chambliss to include language to waive the statute of limitation and award Captain Copley the medal.

“I am proud to be able to finally honor Captain James Copley for his bravery and valor during his service in Vietnam,” stated Westmoreland. “While under heavy gunfire, Copley opted for an exposed position to facilitate the evacuation of friendly forces. During that evacuation, he suffered a severe gunshot wound that tore through his throat and back. However, he refused medical evacuation and continued his mission until all friendly forces were rescued. His unwavering bravery in the face of danger is a true credit to this country.”

The bill must still be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president to take effect. On December 18, 2010, the government will run out of funding when the current continuing resolution expires, including the Defense Department, unless another continuing resolution is passed. Westmoreland encourages the Senate to pass this clean Defense Department authorization so we can ensure our troops receive the funding they need to defend our country.

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