Supporting the Troops and Defending the Nation
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower, Senator Kennedy fought tirelessly for the men and women of our armed services and their families.
Working to Reduce Nuclear Weapons
In 1982, Senator Kennedy and Senator Hatfield introduced the Kennedy-Hatfield amendment that later came to be known as the Nuclear Freeze Amendment. The amendment called for a verifiable and mutual nuclear weapons freeze between the United States and the Soviet Union. While the amendment did not win passage in the Senate, it did lay the ground work for the Reagan Administration negotiations on the START treaty with the Soviet Union.
In 1998, Senator Kennedy led the fight for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treat. The CTBT carried on the legacy Senator Kennedy's older brother, President John F. Kennedy, started with the Limited Test Ban Treaty and Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963. Sen. Kennedy worked tirelessly to end nuclear testing worldwide and achieve a safer global community. While the fight to ratify the treaty was ultimately unsuccessful, the US has voluntarily maintained a moratorium on nuclear testing.
Helping Military Families
Senator Kennedy was always a champion of military families and children. In 1985, Kennedy introduced legislation to improve the lives of military families. The bill included provisions that would make it easier for military wives to get government jobs, required the military to pay attention to the children who moved with their parents, and reduced the costs that servicemen had to pay when they were transferred from one base to another. In addition, Kennedy was a successful voice for bumping up the date of a three-percent military pay raise, arguing that military pay lagged more than 10 percent behind civilian pay for comparable jobs.
In 1989, Kennedy won passage of the National Military Child Care Act. This important legislation established the DOD child-care system that is still viewed as one of the best in the country today. Military families make difficult decisions and numerous sacrifices to defend our freedom, and the Military Child Care Act is just one way we can begin to compensate them for this.
Since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has fought tirelessly to ensure that families who have loved ones deployed overseas get access to the best care and services possible. In April of 2008, Kennedy introduced the National Month of the Military Child, which honors and recognizes the achievements of children of service members. Senator Kennedy deeply understands and cares about the effects that the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan have on military children.
Protecting our Troops and Modernizing our Armed Forces
Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, Kennedy worked to guarantee effective vehicle armor and body armor for our troops to protect them from improvised explosive devices in Iraq. Again and again, Pentagon procurement has fallen short, and troops have suffered needless casualties and deaths.
In 2003, Senator Kennedy met Brian and Alma Hart at the burial of their son John at Arlington National Cemetery. On October, 18, 2003, the Bedford, Massachusetts resident was killed in Taza, Iraq when enemy forces attacked his patrol using small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades. Before his death, John asked his parents to do something to improve the availability of armored humvees to American troops in combat. After hearing this story and John's plea, Senator Kennedy invited the Harts to testify before Congress and later secured over $1 billion in funding for armored vehicles for our troops.
Said Mr. Hart in 2008, "Senator Kennedy taught me that government can function for the common man."
In 2005, the Senate Armed Services Committee continued to provide additional protective gear to our troops. The committee, with Senator Kennedy's support added nearly $835 million for Army and Marine Corps armored vehicles.
In 2007, Senator Kennedy offered an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act, calling for additional funding to the Joint IED Defeat Organization's (JIEDDO) budget to explore ways to mitigate the effects of Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFPs).
Again and again, Pentagon procurement has fallen short, and troops have suffered needless casualties and deaths. He has been a consistent champion of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle or MRAP. The services were slow to recognize that these heavily armored vehicles could protect our troops better than up-armored humvees. Senator Kennedy has pressed for a full and fair investigation into why the Marine Corps disregarded a universal, urgent needs statement calling for MRAPs in 2002 because he feels that quicker and more complete fielding of MRAPs could have saved soldier's lives. He continues to press for streamlining for the urgent needs process to insure that our soldiers receive the best equipment possible as rapidly as possible.
Senator Kennedy led the fight to preserve the Air Force's newest, most capable airlift platform, the C-17, a unique aircraft that facilitates the delivery of necessary materials to our troops all over the world. Senator Kennedy was a strong proponent of a reasonable and affordable mix of strategic airlift. He authored language requiring the testing of C-5A and C-5B aircraft undergoing the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) and Reliability Enhancement and Re-Engining Program (RERP) before any aircraft can be retired. Only after understanding the outcome of these two programs to modernize our C-5 fleet can the Congress and the Air Force make responsible decisions on the proper mix of the two platforms.
Protecting Equal Opportunity for Women in Combat
In 1991, Kennedy strongly supported legislation to repeal the ban on women serving as combat aviators. The bill made it possible for women to play a full and complete role in our national defense by discontinuing an archaic law preventing women from combat aviation. By repealing these outdated statutes, Sen. Kennedy helped to achieve equal opportunity for women in the military.
Caring for our Wounded Warriors
In 2008, Senator Kennedy was a champion of Wounded Warrior legislation contained in the FY08 Defense Authorization bill. In response to alarming statistics of increased suicides in the Army and the lack of adequate mental health care, he introduced National Guard and Reserve Mental Health Access Act of 2008 to improve access to mental health care for our returning Guard and Reserve men and women by requiring the prompt implementation of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration program, a pilot program for tele-mental health, create mental health Directors in each state and territory, and provide for an anti-stigma campaign.
Senator Kennedy introduced legislation in 2007 to prohibit all agencies and instrumentalities of the United States government from using any interrogation technique not authorized by the Army Field Manual. The Field Manual recognizes that torture is not an effective method of obtaining information and instead only authorizes interrogation techniques that comply with domestic and international law as well as the most basic human rights values.
Senator Kennedy's interrogation language, included in the Intelligence Authorization bill, drew a veto from President Bush in January 2008. His language was included in the FY08 Emergency Supplemental bill passed by the House of Representatives.
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