Levin floor statement on Defense Authorization Act conference report
Friday, December 21, 2012
WASHINGTON – Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, delivered an opening statement today as the Senate began debate on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The Senate approved the conference report by an 81-14 vote, sending it to the president for his signature.
The full text of Sen. Levin’s opening statement:
Mr. President, on behalf of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am pleased to bring to the Senate the Conference Report on H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. This conference report, which was signed by all 26 Senate conferees, all the Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, contains many provisions that are of critical importance to our troops. This will be the 51st consecutive year in which a National Defense Authorization Act will be enacted into law.
I want to thank my friend Senator McCain, our ranking minority member, for all he did to bring us to this conclusion and for the years of his great leadership on our committee. I’ve been lucky to have Senator McCain as a partner. I know we are both grateful to the chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon and Adam Smith, for their hard work on reconciling the many differences between the House and Senate bills and for helping to produce a solid bill to support the men and women of our Armed Forces.
The conference report authorizes a total of $633.3 billion in fiscal year 2013 for National Defense programs in the jurisdiction of the Armed Services Committees. This level is $1.9 billion more than was in the Senate-passed bill and $2.0 billion less than the amount in the House-passed bill. It is $1.7 billion more than requested by the Administration.
The bill authorizes $527.5 billion for base Department of Defense programs. This amount is $2.1 billion more than the request. It authorizes $88.5 billion for overseas contingency operations which is equal to the request.
The bill authorizes $17.4 billion for national security programs in the Department of Energy which is $395 million less than request.
This conference report contains many important provisions that will improve the quality of life of our men and women in uniform. It will provide needed support and assistance to our troops on the battlefield. And it will make the investments we need to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
First and foremost, the bill authorizes a 1.7% across-the-board pay raise for all members of the uniformed services, consistent with the President’s request. It establishes the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission to review elements of military compensation and retirement benefits to ensure the long-term viability of the All-Volunteer Force, enable a high quality of life for military families, and to modernize and achieve sustainability of the compensation and retirement systems, while grandfathering the retired pay of current service members and retirees.
The conference report contains new sanctions on Iran. The Iran sanctions provisions will:
• designate certain persons in Iran’s energy, port, shipping, and ship-building sectors as entities of proliferation concern, subjecting many transactions with such entities to sanction;
• impose sanctions on persons selling or supplying, or diverting to Iran a defined list of materials relevant to the aforementioned sectors, to certain Iranian Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons, or to be used in connection with certain Iranian military programs;
• impose sanctions on any insurance or reinsurance provider or underwriter that knowingly provides underwriting service, insurance, or reinsurance for activities for which sanctions have been imposed to any person in the energy, shipping, or ship-building sector in Iran
• impose sanctions on non-U.S. businesses and financial institutions dealing with all Iranian persons on the U.S. list of Specially-Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons, except for non-designated Iranian financial institutions; and
• designate the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting and its president as human rights abusers for their broadcasting of forced confessions and show trials, blocking their assets and preventing other entities from doing business with them, and banning any travel to the US.
The Administration requested three broad policy modifications – additional time to implement the provision following enactment; additional time between waiver renewals; and a modification of the exceptions clause from non-designated Iranian “financial institutions” in the Senate-passed version to a broader term that would have incorporated non-designated Iranian "persons." The conference report provides two of the three modifications – additional time to implement the legislation following enactment (180 days vice 90 days), and additional time between waiver renewals (180 days vice 120 days).
The conference report contains a few provisions addressing detainee issues. These provisions extend existing limitations on the transfer or release of GITMO detainees for another year. We did not adopt the permanent limitations in the House bill. We also provided new flexibility for detainees who cooperate with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement authorities pursuant to pre-trial agreements. The report establishes new congressional notification requirements for military detainees held on naval vessels and for third-country nationals who are released from military detention in Afghanistan, but does not place any conditions or limitations on such transfers.
The conference report does not include the Feinstein amendment regarding military detention inside the United States. The House conferees would simply not accept this provision. Instead, we included a provision which states:
“Nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) or the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112-81) shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus or to deny any Constitutional rights in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution to any person inside the United States who would be entitled to the availability of such writ or to such rights in the absence of such laws.”
This provision in the 2012 Act referred to is section 1021, which stated: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested inside the United States.” The language in this conference report reflects my view that Congress did not restrict or deny anyone’s Constitutional rights in either the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force or the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. The Statement of Managers accompanying this conference report points out that “constitutional rights may not be restricted or denied by statute.”
The Conference report does not include a provision of the House-passed bill that would have prohibited fiscal year 2013 funding for the production or purchase of alternative fuel if the cost of producing or purchasing the alternative fuel exceeds the cost of traditional fossil fuel.
The conference report does contain a provision that limits DOD’s fiscal year 2013 Defense Production Act (DPA) funding for the construction of a biofuel refinery until the DOD receives the promised contributions from the Departments of Energy and Agriculture for the same purpose. We do not limit Phase I of the DPA project, nor does the conference report limit the use of FY12 funds for biofuel refinery construction.
The conference report requires the Secretary of Defense to create a process requiring defense contractors that use or possess classified or sensitive DOD information to report successful cyber penetrations of their networks or information systems. Additionally, if the Department is concerned about a particular event and feels the need to determine what DOD information may have been lost, the provision would authorize DOD to conduct its own forensic analysis, upon request, and subject to limitations. This represents a major breakthrough in the Nation’s cybersecurity. However, other sensitive areas where we are threatened with cyber attacks, such as the financial, police and transportation sectors, need similar action.
The conference report provides that the Secretary of Defense will evaluate, by the end of 2013, at least three possible future missile defense interceptor deployment locations in the United States—at least two of which would be on the East Coast—and then to prepare an environmental impact statement for the locations evaluated. It would also require the Director of the Missile Defense Agency to prepare a contingency plan for deployment of an additional interceptor site in case the President decides to proceed with such a deployment. However, it does not mandate or authorize deployment of any missile defense site, and does not require the Defense Department to submit a deployment plan to Congress.
The conference report includes a sense of Congress in support of the President’s plan for the transition of lead responsibility for security to the Afghan security forces in 2013 and the drawdown of most U.S. forces by no later than the end of 2014. Specifically, the sense of Congress provides in part that the President should seek to "… take all possible steps to end such operations at the earliest possible date consistent with a safe and orderly draw down of United States troops in Afghanistan."
The conference report also calls for an independent assessment of the size and structure requirements of the Afghan National Security Forces necessary for those forces to be able to ensure that their country will not again serve as a safe-haven for terrorists that threaten Afghanistan, the region, and the world.
The conference report establishes modestly increased cost-sharing rates under the TRICARE pharmacy benefits program for fiscal year 2013 in statute, and in fiscal years 2014 through 2022, limits any annual increases in pharmacy copayments to increases in retiree cost of living adjustments. The Administration’s proposal would have tripled beneficiary copayment rates over the next 10 years.
The conference report also requires the Secretary of Defense to conduct a 5-year pilot program to refill prescription maintenance medications for TRICARE for Life beneficiaries through TRICARE’s national mail-order pharmacy program, resulting in savings to the government of $1.1 billion over the next decade.
Air Force Force Structure
The conferees adopted language establishing a commission, which would consist of eight members, four appointed by the President and four appointed by leadership of the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Commission would be required to report to the Congress by February 1, 2014, in time to inform congressional action on the fiscal year 2015 budget request, on an Air Force force structure that would, among other things, meet the current and anticipated requirement of the combatant commanders while achieving an appropriate balance between the regular and reserve components of the Air Force, taking advantage of the unique strengths and capabilities of each.
The conference report would provide that during fiscal year 2013, the Air Force would be required to maintain the alternative force structure proposed by the Air Force on November 2, 2012, after Congress clearly indicated it would reject the original plan. We modified the November plan to add an additional 32 fixed-wing, intra-theater airlift aircraft (C-27s and/or C-130s) beyond the number proposed by the Secretary. This addition will help us provide sufficient aircraft to meet the Army’s fixed-wing, direct support/time sensitive airlift mission requirements.
Mr. President, I would once again thank Senator McCain, all our Members, and our majority and minority staff, led by Rick
DeBobes and Ann Sauer, for their amazing work on this bill. They did months of work in weeks and weeks of work in days.
I ask unanimous consent that a full list of our majority and minority staff, who gave so much of themselves and their families, be printed in the Record. Finally, I would note that the committee’s chief clerk, Chris Cowart, will be retiring at the end of the year, after completing more than 41 years on the committee staff. Chris has been a driving force behind the staff support for the annual Defense Authorization Act and she will be sorely missed.