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Gwen Graham moves three measures through the U.S. House

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Today’s passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of the National Defense Authorization Act, which appropriates $612 billion in spending for the Pentagon and military priorities, also marks the House approval of three initiatives sponsored by Democratic congresswoman from Florida’s Panhandle Gwen Graham. 

Graham heralded the passage of the bill — by a vote of 269-151, with 143 of her fellow Dems voting “Nay” and 40 joining her in the “Yea” column — in a news release on Friday.

“The government’s first and foremost duty is to keep our nation safe. I’m proud to support the National Defense Authorization Act, which will ensure our military remains the strongest on earth,” Graham said in a written statement.

“I’m also proud this legislation contains important elements of bills I’ve sponsored to recognize military divers, help our veterans and strengthen our bond with Israel,” she noted on Friday.

The latter remark refers to the Tallahassee freshman’s continued efforts to stake out moderate ground in Congress, maneuvering to include in the final draft of the NDAA the US-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act, increased funding for military divers and a portion of Graham’s proposed VETS Act to hire more “recovery coordinators” to help injured veterans transition back to civilian life.

Graham worked alongside Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn to secure passage of the new pro-Israeli defense initiative, which authorizes research and development funding for an anti-tunneling defense system to protect the Jewish state from terrorist attacks, a system Graham likened to Israel’s famed “Iron Dome” anti-missile defense system

“Passing the US-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation Act in my first five months shows how much we can accomplish when Democrats and Republicans work together,” Graham said Friday, hitting a bipartisan refrain she is increasingly known for.

“This legislation will help our country and our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, defend our borders and bases against terrorist attacks.”

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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