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WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Craig Thomas and Mike Enzi, both R-Wyo., supported the passage of S. 2400, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005. The bill authorizes spending for the Department of Defense (DOD), military construction, and national security programs. The bill passed by a vote of 97-0. “We are determined to provide our military with the essential resources to function effectively around the world. We have a responsibility to provide our troops with the best equipment and technology available, plan for the future of our national defense, and support their families at home. We must continue to support our military men and women who are protecting our interests overseas and this bill will continue the process to do just that,” Thomas said.

“This bill backs up our words of support for our troops both overseas and here at home. We are behind them. We appreciate their sacrifice and honor their service. We are all proud of what our military men and women have accomplished and we will not neglect our duty to provide them with the equipment, supplies and other resources they and their families need to do the job,” said Enzi.

The bill authorizes $422.2 billion in budget authority for defense programs in fiscal year 2005, a 3.4 percent increase above last year’s appropriations, and includes an across the board 3.5 percent pay increase for all military personnel.

Thomas and Enzi were able to include in the bill a $5.5 million authorization for the first construction phase of a storm drainage system on F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne. Drainage and flooding problems on and near the base have been a continuous issue during large storms when excessive amounts of rain often cause flooding in the low-level base areas. The funding authorization was also included in the House version of the bill.

The bill also authorizes a permanent increase for service member pay in the rate of family separation allowance from $100 per month to $250 per month, and a permanent increase in the rate of special pay for duty subject to hostile fire of imminent danger from $150 per month to $225 per month. The bill also authorizes the extension of TRICARE benefits to the members of the National Guard and Reserves.

The bill now must be reconciled with the version the House of Representatives approved May 20 by a vote of 391-34.