Alexander Hails Senate Passage of Final Defense Authorization Bill

Measure Includes Alexander-sponsored Amendment to Aid Sick Nuclear Weapons Workers Seeking Healthcare

Posted on December 14, 2007

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today praised Senate passage of the final version of the Defense Authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2008. “The men and women of the Armed Forces are fighting abroad so that we can be safe, and I’m glad we can show them the support they need and deserve before Christmas,” said Alexander. “Our troops have earned the pay raises, better education provisions and better battlefield protection provided in this bill.” Alexander noted that the bill: • includes a 3.5 percent pay raise for our troops, • invests $4.5 billion into efforts to counter the roadside bombs our military forces face everyday, • enhances health benefits for serious battlefield injuries such as traumatic brain-injury, and • significantly expands funding for the National Guard and Reserve troops who have shouldered a significant burden during the ongoing war on terror. Also included in this conference report is a measure Alexander cosponsored to help sick nuclear weapons workers in Tennessee navigate the bureaucracy of the claimant process. The report extends the sunset date for the EEOICPA Ombudsman’s office for five years until October 28, 2012. “This legislation ensures that we will continue to provide aid to our sick Cold-War era heroes who deserve compensation for serving our nation,” Alexander said. “This is a victory for these Tennessee workers and their families as we continue to work to improve the current compensation system.” Alexander was the lead Republican of the amendment offered by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) to extend the authorization of the Office of the Ombudsman for Part E – an independent office located within the Department of Labor. That Kennedy-Alexander amendment was included in the bill during consideration on the Senate floor on September 20, 2007. The Ombudsman’s office was created as part of legislation -- the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICPA) Reform Act of 2004 – to provide appropriate compensation to Cold War-era federal employees that worked at nuclear facilities and are suffering from health complications due to exposure to toxic substances. The Conference Report to the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Bill, which represents the final agreed upon version of the House and Senate versions of the bill, passed the Senate by a 90 to 3 vote.