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Congressman Higgins Votes to Approve Bill Providing Critical Funding for National Security, Flu Response Efforts, Cash for Clunkers & Veterans

Jun 15, 2009
Press Release

Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) voted with his colleagues in the House of Representatives to approve a bill providing critical federal dollars for efforts to maintain national security, respond to H1N1 flu needs, fund consumers vouchers for less efficient vehicle trade-ins and support our troops and veterans.

“This bill demonstrates Congress’ commitment to support our troops and their mission to provide international stabilization and homeland security,” said Congressman Higgins.  “In addition we are providing the financial means to educate our veterans through the GI Bill for the 21st Century, protect public health through flu response and prevention efforts and boost the US Auto industry and consumer pocketbooks through the cash for clunkers program.” 

Highlights of the bill include: 

National Security & Military Support:

• Troop Support: $51.3 billion for operations and maintenance, and military personnel requirements for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to support preparation to begin withdrawal from Iraq, consistent with President Obama’s plans. 
• Extended Duty Support: $534.4 million to provide over 185,000 service members who have had their enlistments involuntarily extended since September 11, 2001 with $500 per month for every month they were held under stop-loss orders.
• Military Pay: Recognizing shortfalls in the military pay accounts, the measure provides an additional $2.5 billion above the President’s request to ensure adequate pay for U.S. troops for the balance of FY 2009.
• Health Care: $1.8 billion, $240 million above the request, for defense health and programs to support military families, including: an additional $94 million for family advocacy programs, $51 million for orthopedic research, $75 million for Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health Research, and $20 million for rehabilitation equipment for wounded warriors.
• Equipment: $25.8 billion for equipment used by our service members in Iraq and Afghanistan, including additional military aircraft and IED threat prevention efforts
• Wounded Warrior Support: $488 million, fully funding the President’s request, to construct nine wounded warrior support complexes to help soldiers wounded in combat recover and remain on active duty or transition to civilian life and support families through this process.
• Child Care: $276 million to construct 25 child development centers, which will provide an additional 5,000 child care spaces and address a top concern of military families.
• Walter Reed National Military Medical Center: $263 millionto complete the construction of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda, including a Warrior Transition Center, and the Fort Belvoir, VA, Community Hospital.
• NSA Data Center: $169.5 million to begin construction of a National Security Agency data center to support the Comprehensive National Cyber security Initiative.
• Hospitals: $488 million for hospital construction to address hospitals that are decades old and do not meet current standards for medical care.
• Troop Withdrawal Plan:  requires the Secretary of Defense to report on Iraq troop drawdown status, prohibits the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq and Afghanistan and requires the President to submit a report to Congress assessing whether the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan are, or are not, demonstrating the necessary commitment, capability, conduct and unity of purpose to warrant the continuation of the President’s policy announced on March 27, 2009.

Veterans:

• GI Bill: Allows the extension of 21st Century GI Bill of Rights education benefits to children of members of the armed forces who die while on active duty.

H1N1 Flu:
• HHS and CDC Response: $1.5 billion in FY 2009 appropriations and $5.8 billion in contingent emergency appropriations for priority efforts including: expanding detection efforts, supplementing federal stockpiles, and developing, purchasing and administering vaccines. 
• State and Local Response: $350 million, not requested, to assist state and local governments in preparing for and responding to a pandemic.
• Global Efforts: $50 million, not requested, to support global efforts to track, contain, and slow the spread of a pandemic.

Cash for Clunkers:
• Funding Consumer Vouchers:  $1 billion to provide consumers with $3,500 or $4,500 vouchers when they choose to trade in an old vehicle for one with higher fuel efficiency.  The vehicle turned in must be scrapped.