Several Bilirakis Proposals Included in Military Bill
The overall bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report, could be voted on in the U.S. House this week. It would then go to the Senate.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs, said several items he authored have been included in a defense bill.
The bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report, was released earlier this week. It could be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives as early as this week and would then go to the Senate.
Included in the bill, Bilirakis said, is his proposal that would permit veterans who have a 100 percent service-connected disability to travel on military aircraft when space is available. That’s a travel benefit that active duty and retired military members and their families already enjoy. Biliraki’s proposal is known as the Special Priority on Aircrafts and Coverage Equity Act, or SPACE-A.
“The Space Available Travel program is a benefit rightfully extended to all military retirees, yet it excludes those who are 100 percent disabled,” Bilirakis said. “The brave men and women who served our country, and returned home injured, have already paid a big price on our behalf. If there is space available for travel on a military aircraft, there is no reason our veterans who are 100 percent disabled shouldn’t be on that flight.
“As most good ideas are, this legislation originated from a local constituent. It has been my privilege to fight for this common sense provision that will assist our disabled veterans.”
Also included in the NDAA report is an amendment Bilirakis co-sponsored to block the sale of F-35s to Turkey. The amendment would require a report on the status of the U.S.-Turkish relationship within 90 days of enactment and prohibits the sale of F-35s to Turkey until the report has been presented to Congress.
“In light of the recent reckless behavior on the part of Turkey under the current leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has unfortunately proven that it can no longer be trusted as a reliable, close ally of the United States,” Bilirakis said. “It is important that we examine status of our relationship with this supposed ally prior to continuing to sell them additional weaponry and military equipment.”
Bilirakis said he has “tirelessly fought” against a provision in the NDAA that would have resulted in significant increases in out of pocket costs for military retirees enrolled in Tricare. This provision, section 702, would have removed the grandfathering clause that protected any enrollee before Jan. 1 from increases. Earlier this week, Bilirakis said he was continuing to urge that the provision not become law.
“Our military personnel and Veterans have sacrificed enough in service to our country. It is unfair to subject them to further financial hardship,” he said.
Bilirakis said he has long been a staunch supporter for a sustained U.S. presence at Souda Bay, a strategically positioned naval base located in the Mediterranean. This year’s Conference Report includes a $47.8 million investment at this base.
Souda Bay is the largest deep water port in the Mediterranean Sea, the only one between Norfolk and the Indian Ocean that can accommodate a nuclear carrier pier-side to an airfield facility, allowing the Navy fleet to dock and carry out repairs, maintenance and resupply functions, he said. The base enhances U.S. security response capability by providing, operating and sustaining superior facilities and services dedicated to combat readiness.
“In these turbulent times, it is more important than ever to ensure that our military has all of the resources it needs to respond to an international crisis and optimize its ability to defend our country. The base at Souda Bay is an important component of that readiness. As co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues and the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance, the strategic alliance between the United States and Greece is of the utmost importance because it enhances our national security,” said Bilirakis.
Bilirakis represents Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and northern parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
For information about Bilirakis, go to bilirakis.house.gov.
Gus Biliraks | Politics | NDAA Report | Tampabay News
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