Owens applauds passage of House defense bill

North Country Congressman Bill Owens says he's pleased with the recent House passage of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Owens says the bipartisan legislation increases pay for service men and women by 1.6 percent and offers "robust" funding to protect Americans troops from IEDs and other threats.

Additionally, Owens says the legislation provides funding for several critical programs at the Fort Drum Army Base in Watertown.

"As we move closer to winding down operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, this bill will give American servicemen and women the support they need to complete the mission," Owens said, noting that the recent killing of Osama bin Laden represents the closing of a major chapter in America's war on terror.

But Owens adds that the mission isn't over yet.

"It is critical that we remain vigilant in the ongoing mission to further dismantle and disrupt terrorist groups that wish to harm the United States," he said.

Included in the defense bill were four amendments offered up by Owens. One provides about $10 million in funding for Army construction and land acquisition. The others direct funding to health care programming, sniper rifle modification, and cyber workforce development.

Owens says the four amendments allow local leaders to compete in an open process to both "contribute to and benefit from a robust investment in national security."

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