After Congressman's advocacy, bill also drastically reduces possible cuts to Iowa National Guard
Washington, D.C. - Two of Rep. Bruce Braley's (IA-01) main priorities cleared a major hurdle today in the U.S House's annual National Defense Authorization Act-the annual bill that sets funding for the United States military. The bill drastically curtails possible cuts to the National Guard, and also included Braley's True Cost of War Act-a years-long effort by the Congressman to demand a full accounting of the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Currently, National Guard troop levels sit at roughly 355,000. This year, the Pentagon had proposed cutting forces to 335,000-a level Braley strongly objected to as it would have resulted in cuts to hundreds of troops in the Iowa National Guard. Today's defense bill mandated that troop strength will not drop below 350,000.
"Iowa's National Guard has protected the lives of Iowans both at home and abroad, and-while today is a big step toward ensuring that they can continue doing their job-we can't let up now," Braley said. "I'm going to continuing fighting to protect the Iowa National Guard and prevent even these reduced cuts from taking place. There are much better areas to find savings at the Pentagon than cutting troops that protect Iowans at home and abroad."
Braley recently sought personal stories from Iowans that had been positively impacted by the Iowa National Guard-turning hundreds of those stories over to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Braley also sent a letter to US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel outlining his opposition to cuts to Iowa's National Guard forces as the Department of Defense looks to reduce spending.
Braley has been a consistent advocate for Iowa's National Guard. In December of 2012 he joined Rep. Tom Latham in efforts to block cuts to the Des Moines Air National Guard.
Also included in today's legislation was Braley's True Cost of War Act, which requires the President, in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense, State and Veterans Affairs to report on the long-term costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in human and financial terms.
"This is a huge step toward providing the American people with the information they deserve about the long-term cost of these conflicts," Braley said. "It's time the White House ended their silent opposition to this commonsense measure and signed it into law."
The report also asks for estimates of future costs based on scenarios of continued troop deployments, estimated number of troops needed, estimates of future casualties, and healthcare cost projections.
Since 2001, Congress has appropriated an estimated $1.5 trillion dollars for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, much of it in supplemental spending bills. During those conflicts, more than 6,600 servicemembers have been killed in the line of duty, and more than 50,000 have been wounded, many with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, severe burns and amputated limbs-injuries that can often require a lifetime of medical and psychological care. This means the true cost of the wars is much higher than the $1.5 trillion Congress has directly appropriated.
Braley first introduced the True Cost of War Act in 2008 and has worked in subsequent sessions of Congress to pass the bill into law. In 2013 the legislation was passed by the US House in a bipartisan vote. However, the True Cost of War Act has never advanced to the President's desk for his signature into law.
Braley did however register his objection to continued funding for the war in Afghanistan contained the Overseas Contingency Operations. "It's past time we stopped spending tens of billions of dollars a year halfway around the world and brought our troops home," Braley said.
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This document was issued by Bruce L. Braley and was initially posted at braley.house.gov. It was distributed, unedited and unaltered, by noodls on 2014-06-07 01:21:36. The original document issuer is solely responsible for the accuracy of the information contained therein.