The U.S. House passed the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act during a lame-duck session, but not all lawmakers are in support.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, said the bill presented a “troubling dilemma for me and my colleagues.”
“After speaking with local veterans and military leaders in my community, I cannot vote for reduced benefits and a reduction in a pay raise for our service members,” Ross said, in a statement. “There needs to be a proper balance of military compensation, training and equipment, but this NDAA does not meet that requirement.”
Instead, Ross said, it decreases the military pay raise Ross voted for earlier this year, and increases the cost of prescription drugs.
“We already ask our military to make incredible sacrifices for the security of our nation. We must look at other areas of the budget before we put more of a financial burden on our war heroes.”
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, however, highlighted the $7.7 billion that will go to MacDill Air Force Base. It also provides $26 million in additional funding for behavioral and psychological health programs and initiatives, specifically for special operations forces.
“We are concerned about higher suicide rates among special forces compared to (the) military overall,” the Tampa Democrat said in a statement. “Additional resources for behavioral and psychological health for special forces will build upon our community efforts to seek solutions in military and veterans suicides.”
The vote, which took place through a motion to concur on a amendment to H.R. 3979 written to address protections to volunteer firefighters and emergency responders. It passed 300-119, with 87 of the House’s 201 Democrats voting against it.
Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, the only other local Congressman in Washington, joined Castor in voting for the bill.