U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that he voted in favor of the Defense Authorization bill that boosts pay, bonuses and other benefits for servicemen and women as well as increases the compensation for thousands of service members’ surviving spouses.
“Our men and women in uniform need America’s support, and this bill gives them a well-deserved pay raise for keeping us safe,” Alexander said. “This bill also does the right thing by requiring the Iraqis to pay more for their own reconstruction and by increasing compensation for nearly 60,000 surviving spouses of troops, giving these survivors the respect they are due for the service of their loved ones.”
Alexander noted that the bill:
o Includes an across-the-board pay increase of 3.9% for all uniformed service members.
o Reauthorizes a multitude of bonuses and benefits to encourage recruitment and retention.
o Shifts major reconstruction costs in Iraq to the Iraqi government.
o Rejects any increase in TRICARE fees, the Department of Defense’s worldwide health care program for uniformed service members and their families.
Alexander said that the bill also includes an amendment he cosponsored that would increase compensation for approximately 59,000 survivors of service members who died because of service-related illnesses or disabilities. Specifically, the amendment would repeal the requirement that veterans’ disability dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) payments be offset from Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuities.
The bill authorizes funding for the following Tennessee projects:
o $8 million to replace the squadron operations center at McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base with a new 26,900 square foot Squadron Operations Facility to support the staff and mission load of the 134th Air Refueling Wing.
o $10 million for the School Age Services Center at Fort Campbell to construct a 195-225 student capacity center for children ages 6-10 that will provide before- and after-school care during the duty day, summer, school-out days, and holidays.
The Defense Authorization bill (S. 3001) passed the Senate by a vote of 88 to 8.