The U.S. Senate met and finally came to the right conclusion last Friday, passing a defense policy measure that will support troops that are returning from combat. The Bill will also help rein in expensive weapons systems and out of control military contractors. Additional provisions approved a much needed Servicemember pay rise of three point five percent. Congress has been democratically controlled for quite some time now, and they have wanted to show their displeasure about the war in general by refusing to fund the troops and soldiers in the field, but this is the wrong approach.
By withholding funding, or attempting to, Democrats have wanted to force the President to withdraw from the war and order troops immediately home, but they do not have the number of votes to overcome the Republican Opposition, nor the votes to overcome Presidential Veto on most issues that come before them. The Senate voted on the overall spending measure on Friday, and it was approved on a vote of 90-3. This follows the earlier approval of the funding measure by the House of Representatives, and now the Spending Bill goes to the Desk of President Bush for his approval and signature. President Bush is expected to sign the measure immediately. “Providing care for our Soldiers, Troops, and their dependents must always serve as our top focus and priority” remarked Carl Levin, Democratic Senator from Michigan. Levin is the Chair of the Armed Services Committee. which helped to construct and write the bill.
It does not send money to the Pentagon, rather it is a bill to help guide legislation and spending about military issues, and it sends Six Hundred Ninety Six Billion in total military spending. This amount includes the One Hundred Eighty Nine Billion to continue to fund wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Besides the necessary and vital Servicemember pay raise it helps provide funds for mental health evaluations of combat veterans who request it, and it stipulates that there cannot be any increases to the fees found in the Military health system of care.
This bill also guarantees soldiers who are returning from Afghanistan and Iraq three more years of health care from the VA when they are discharged. This bill requires three years, but it does not totally fund such care, it just requires it. Military and health care advocates hail this element as they say it can take time for some things to become detectable, or to worsen. This is especially true in injuries of the brain, or in post trauma disorders.