Skip to content

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Senate colleagues voted 99-0 to approve S. 1438, legislation authorizing more than $343.5 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) today.

The DOD has requested the money for maintenance, acquisition and improvement of weapons such as Apache helicopters, Minuteman missiles, F-18 fighter jets, Arleigh Burk-class destroyers, Trident nuclear submarines and many other tools of warfare.

But Enzi pointed out that also prominent in the department's requests is funding for defense systems that are a sign of the times. The authorizing bill includes $8.3 billion for development of a ballistic missile defense system, almost $13 million for research of computer information system security, $67 million for the Combating Terrorism Technology Support Working Group and $133 million for research in chemical and biological defense. The bill also includes some funding for training special operation forces in counterterrorism.

"We face a new enemy and Congress, along with the President, is acting swiftly to ensure America's readiness to meet him on the battlefields of the 21st century," said Enzi.

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which oversees the Department of Health and Human Services, Enzi is particularly concerned about the U.S. approach to the threat of biological weapons.

"We can't ignore the public health front," said Enzi. "Naturally this bill focuses on the threat from a military perspective, but the Department of Defense must also coordinate with the Department of Health and Human Services and even the private sector to not only provide protection from biological agents for our soldiers, but also our civilians. We should stockpile vaccines, develop new ones and improve treatments for damage that could be sustained from a biological attack. Every department and even the private sector should work in concert, pool our resources together so we are prepared and able mount the best possible defense on every front."

Enzi received assurances from the Armed Services Committee that during reconciliation of the authorization bill with the House, Enzi's concerns would be addressed.

The bill also authorizes money for a pay raise of at least 5 percent for all military personnel and pay raises of 6 to 10 percent for mid- and senior-level enlisted personnel and junior officers. The bill authorizes $232 million to help pay for housing for service members and their families with the goal of eliminating out-of-pocket housing costs by 2003. Authorized spending totals nearly $18 billion for the Defense Health Program including coverage for comprehensive care in skilled nursing facilities, home health care and extended benefits for military dependents with certain disabilities.

Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) for 2003 is also a part of S. 1438. BRAC is the process where the military evaluates the effectiveness of military bases around the country. Enzi supported the provision because he believes it would lead to better security with up to $21 billion being used more efficiently in the defense of our country in the wake of new threats. He believes F.E. Warren would prove vital to the security of the nation and would not suffer under a BRAC round.

Enzi cosponsored a successful amendment with fellow Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas and others that would encourage joint helicopter mission operation between the active duty at F.E. Warren Air Force Base and Wyoming National Guard.

"If active duty personnel have to leave the Air Force base then National Guard personnel can fill in and vise-versa," said Enzi. "Having a ready backup force is key to maintaining our defenses and gives us more flexibility."

The Armed Services Committee passed S. 1438 on a party line vote of 13-12 in Sept. Republicans voted against it because, as it was written, it hampered the President's ability to move forward in the development of a missile defense system. The legislation was amended on the Senate floor to give the President more latitude in the missile defense area.

The DOD authorization sets funding parameters for general areas. Funding for specific areas will actually be allotted in the DOD appropriations bill, which the Senate will consider in the coming weeks.