Transcript: Press briefing remarks by Rep. Buck McKeon on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 – Dec. 9, 2013

Partial transcript of press briefing remarks by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-California), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on the status of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The press conference was held on Dec. 9, 2013:

I’m Buck McKeon from the 25th district California, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. And I’m joined by Chairman [Carl] Levin from Michigan, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Ranking Member [Jim] Inhofe from Oklahoma, the Ranking Member of the Senate committee. Adam Smith, the Ranking Member in the House, is held up and not able to – he’s coming from Washington and is not able to be with us, but we do have his statement. We’ve circulated that here today.

I’m pleased to announce that working together, members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have reached an agreement on our National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014.

Some of you, I know, have speculated that we wouldn’t really be able to finish our work this year and we would pass a slimmed down bill with only the essential authorities. I’m pleased to say that – I don’t want to say we’ve proved you wrong but that’s basically what’s happened. We are offering a full comprehensive bill.

The House passed our bill out of committee last May with a vote of 59 to 2 and then it passed in June on the floor with a vote of 315 to 108 – the same day the SAS [Senate Armed Services] passed their bill out of committee with a vote of 23 to 3.

We know that the Senate ran out of time to fully finish their bill on the floor but they did – they had worked on agreement – 25 amendments for Republicans, 25 for House – before their time ran out.

We met last Monday and we were able to go through actually about 87 amendments, 79 of which have been debated and are included in the bill as if they were passed on the Senate floor.

We’ve worked across party lines. We’ve come up with some very important things in this bill and it’s important that it moves forward.

I’m just going to hit on a couple of the –

Overseas Sensitive Military Operations Act that was worked on by Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry and our Ranking Member Adam Smith. And this gives us the opportunity, the ability to oversee our forces overseas under whatever jurisdiction they might be operating.

Sexual assault. That was probably one of the biggest issues that we addressed this year. Both bodies addressed it. Mike Turner and Niki Tsongas head up the Sexual Assault Caucus. They did tremendous work on it as did Joe Wilson, the Chairman of our Personnel Subcommittee, and Susan Davis, the Ranking Member. We held numerous hearings and really worked hard on this issue and came up with some very good changes. And as an Army grandfather of a young beautiful granddaughter, I’m very pleased with the things that they were able to work out – to work on sexual assault for prosecution and prevention. That’s a cornerstone of our bill.

Finally, Gitmo has been an issue that’s been with us for a long time. We, again, found common ground on the detainees where they will not be able to be brought into this country. Some of the certification requirements for formal transfers have been replaced and negotiated.

I wish we had time for a more full debate on this but we’re here at this point saying we are where we and we ran out of time and it’s time – we owe the men and women in uniform and our national security to finish up this bill. So our plan is to bring it to the floor this week, get it passed, send it to the Senate…

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