House OKs wartime appropriations funding

Published 9:44 pm Monday, March 21, 2005

By Staff
This past week, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 388-43 the latest in a series of wartime supplemental appropriations measures. The total cost for the bill, $81.4 billion, was more than $500 million less than the amount initially requested by President Bush.
As with previous supplemental spending measures passed by Congress, this one is geared specifically for the support of troops engaged in the war against terror and the protection of the newly-won freedom being enjoyed by the men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. It includes a total of $76.8 billion for total defense expenditures, an increase of $1.8 billion over the administration's request.
While most if not all of the troops deployed from south Alabama during the ongoing military operations in the Middle East have returned home, there are thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines still stationed overseas. It is important we provide them with the most up-to-date and effective equipment possible in order to ensure that they have the greatest degree of protection necessary to complete their mission. I am confident the funding included in this bill will go a long way to doing just that.
In addition to these important objectives, however, the bill passed by the House includes $656 million in funding to provide relief to countries impacted by the tsunami late last year and to fund U.S. participation in international peacekeeping operations.
Perhaps more important than any of the other items included in the supplemental measure, I am extremely pleased that it calls for an increase in the maximum Servicemember Group Life Insurance (SGLI) benefits from $250,000 to $400,000. Additionally, the one-time death gratuity paid as a result of combat fatalities has been increased from $12,000 to $100,000.
The supplemental appropriations measure must now be passed by the Senate, but the vote last week in the House puts it well on its way to providing the assistance needed by our military members and their dependents. The sacrifices they have made and continue to make are great, and there is no way we could ever truly thank them for volunteering to protect this nation and the liberty we enjoy.
However, we can show that we continue to remember them by providing them with the equipment, training, and protection they need to carry out their vital missions here at home and around the world.
Final town meeting notice
In the next few days, my staff and I will be traveling throughout the First District to conduct our latest series of 20 town hall meetings, and I wanted to provide you with the most current schedule. For those of you living in Monroe County, please note that the location for the meeting in Excel has been changed from Town Hall to the Senior Center.
I hope each of you will take the opportunity to find the meeting closest to your home and come out to visit with my staff and me.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
5:30-6:30 p.m. – Alabama Southern Community College

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