Congress is working on rebuilding the nation’s military numbers and strength and Missouri’s senior Congressman is one of the leaders in the effort. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton has been leading the effort to get the National Defense Authorization Act passed. The bill authorizes billions of dollars for national defense.

Skelton has often talked of the wear and tear, the stress and strain, on the military’s active, reserve, and National Guard personnel. He says the bill addresses that. "Restoring military readiness must be our number one priority," he has told the House as it began debate on the bill. The bill supports the military’s request for about two billion dollars to pay for unfunded readiness initiatives. It also includes 932 million dollars to deal with equipment shortages, and maintenance. It includes 800-million for National Guard and Reserve equipment, replacing a lot of equipment taken to the Middle East and left there.

Skelton says another important segment will boost readiness and reduce strain on our forces. It authorizes seven-thousand more Army troops and five-thousand more Marines.

He tells the House the bill also keeps focus on Afghanistan, "the primary front in the war on terror" and requires the administration to submit separate budget requests that clearly explain the requirements for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also requires the Iraqis to use more of their own resources for reconstruction and security efforts.

Listen to Skelton’s openring remarks in the House (8:22 mp3)