Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the House approved H.R. 3219, the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, a bipartisan package that includes the Fiscal Year 2018 Defense, Military Construction-VA, Energy and Water Development, and Legislative Branch appropriations bills.
“For years, this process has eroded away from regular order into a series of late hour, multi-package efforts to fund the government. It’s no way to do business, but it was necessary as we look to prioritize spending as we approach the end of the fiscal year,” said Congressman Don Young. “Largely, this bill makes a number of important improvements and reforms to address the size and scope of our federal agencies, begin rebuilding our military – including readiness, construction and equipment for Alaska-based missions – support our nation’s veterans and servicemembers, and strengthen energy and infrastructure programs important to Alaska and the nation. Although there’s always room for improvement, and areas this bill fell short, I believe it was an important step in the appropriations process and averting a year-end crisis.”
Of particular interest, Congressman Young worked throughout the appropriations process to protect and fund a number of Alaska specific programs and priorities, including F-35 procurement, $168.9 million for military construction at Eielson Air Force Base, increased funding for Alaska-based missile defense, water and infrastructure projects, services for Alaska-based veterans, and numerous programs of state and national priority.
“We worked extremely hard during the appropriations process to protect the integrity of Alaska-based programs and projects, including those that were slated for cuts in the President’s budget,” said Congressman Don Young. “As I’ve said before, Congress has a responsibility to set spending, not the President, and I’m pleased to see my colleagues work with me to ensure Alaska’s concerns were addressed. This bill takes a particular focus on defense and supporting our military, including the addition of new equipment and infrastructure within Alaska. As we prepare for the beddown of the F-35 at Eielson, it’s imperative these projects are funded and on schedule – which this legislation prioritizes.”
Congressman Young took important steps to protect the Denali Commission – which received a $1 million increase from previously appropriated House levels, but a $4 million reduction from enacted FY17 levels – by authoring an amendment that would restore funding to four regional commissions. Young came to an agreement on the House-floor with the Chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee to work within Conference to “ensure the Denali Commission is provided sufficient funds to support their efforts for his State.”
Congressman Young working to protect Denali Commission funding on the House Floor (click here to watch)
“My proposal would have restored funding for the Denali Commission to its FY17 level to continue the great work that it does to support my constituents of Alaska…., “ said Congressman Don Young. “The Denali Commission, started in 1998, is an independent federal agency designed to provide critical utilities, infrastructure, and economic support throughout Alaska… To date, more than 240 Alaska Native Villages and over 100 communities have been served by the Denali Commission and as a result have seen reduced energy costs and increased access to health services... The Denali Commission is a force multiplier in terms of funding improvements and I look forward to working with you on funding levels for this Commission to continue its amazing work.”
H.R. 3219, includes a number of priorities of Alaskan interest, including:
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations:
*A state by state military construction project list can be found here (Alaskan projects are found on page 102).
Eielson Air Force Base Military Construction: $168.9 million in total Mil-Con funding
- Repair and Replace Central Heat and Power Plant Boiler: Provides $41 million for this project, which will provide new environmental control elements, is critical to supporting the mission of Eielson AFB. During typical operations, Eielson's Coal Heat and Power Plant provides all electrical power and steam heat. Loss of heat and power during sub-arctic winters would be devastating to facilities and the missions housed at Eielson.
- Construction of a F-35A Operations Support Squadron/Weapons/Intelligence Facility: Provides $11.8 million for the construction of a facility to support critical secure space and functional/administrative requirements of the Operations Support Squadron.
- Construction of an Aerospace Ground Equipment with a fuel fill-stand and covered storage: Provides $21 million for the construction of a facilities that include a high bay service and maintenance shop, heated covered storage, and support administrative and building space to accommodate the service and maintenance requirements of the F-35A.
- Construction of an enclosed 6 bay R-11 Fuel Truck Shelter: Provides $9.6 million for the construction of a facility vital to readiness and operations of the F-35. Without this facility, fuel trucks will be required to drive approximately 20 minutes in arctic conditions to refuel aircraft; creating high risk that fuel truck systems may freeze.
- Construction of a Satellite Dining Facility: Provides $8 million for the construction of a facility to support the increase of 900 meals per serving time for operation and maintenance personnel supporting the F-35 mission.
- Construction of a Consolidated Munitions Facility: Provides $27 million to construct a facility that will provide administrative spaces for Munitions Command, Control, Operations, Mobility, Line Delivery, Storage, Conventional Munitions Training, and Munitions Support Equipment Maintenance functions.
- Addition/Alteration of a Conventional Munitions Facility and F-35 supporting facilities: Provides $2.5 million to add and alter facilities that support administrative services for the increase in personnel arriving to support the beddown of the F-35.
- Extension of steam and water piping in a utility line duct enclosure to the South Loop: Provides $48 million to add a new steam line system to the South Loop, which is necessary for the additional facilities being built to support the F-35 beddown.
Veterans Administration Programs and Initiatives of Alaskan Interest:
- VA/Native Health Agreements: Continues to allow veterans who reside in Alaska to obtain medical services from medical facilities supported by the Indian Health Service or tribal organizations, and provides for reimbursement for those services from VA.
- Rural Health Initiative: Provides $250 million to continue the VA’s rural health initiative to provide access and quality care to Veterans in rural areas, including home-based primary care, rural Community Based Outpatient Clinics, transportation of rural Veterans, and home-based therapies.
- Mental Health Programs: Provides 8.353 billion to ensure the VA has the adequate funding for treating veterans with mental health issues. $186 million of this amount is specifically set aside for suicide prevention outreach.
- Air Force F-35A Procurement: Provides $5.048 billion for procurement of the F-35A Fighter, $504 million more than the President’s request. The F-35A is one of top three acquisition priorities for the Air Force, and this procurement request includes funding for critical flight and flight integration testing.
- Air Operations Training: Provides $1.128 billion for Air Operations Training. Air Operations Training consists of fighter lead-in training, combat mission and advanced tactical training for aircrew, and missile launch training for ballistic missile crews. It also supports 21 air-to-ground ranges, including the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, and air-to-air training operations and combat training exercises, including the annual RED FLAG-Alaska exercises held at Eielson AFB.
- Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) RDT&E: Provides $337 million for the continued research, development, testing, and evaluation for the LRDR. The LRDR is a midcourse tracking radar that will provide persistent sensor coverage and improve discrimination capabilities against threats to the homeland from the Pacific theater. It will also optimize the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor inventory, and address evolving threats.
- Missile Defense Agency: Provides $494 million for MDA operations and maintenance, critical to ensuring the MDA continues to operate at full efficiency.
- Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system: Provides $1.036 billion, $208 million above requested levels, for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, primarily located at Fort Greely, Alaska. With increasing intercontinental ballistic missile threats from North Korea and Iran, this system is critical to providing continuous capabilities to defend the Homeland.
- Civil Air Patrol: Provides 43.1 million for Civil Air Patrol (CAP).This includes $30.8 million for operations and maintenance, $10.6 million for the procurement of mission support aircraft, and $1.7 million for the procurement of other vehicles. CAP consists of unpaid professionals who annually contribute more than $153 million in volunteer service. The program provides emergency response support to the Air Force, DoD, and FEMA in thousands of communities across all 50 states.
- Military Pay Raise: Fully funds a 2.4 percent pay raise for the military authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act.
- National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program: Provides 169.8 million for the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, a critical tool to educate and assist at risk youth.
- Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terror: Provides $73.9 billion in OCO/GWOT funding. This funding will provide the needed resources for our troops in the field, including operational needs, the purchase of new aircraft to replace combat losses, combat vehicle safety modifications, additional ISR assets, and maintenance of facilities and equipment.
- Operation and Maintenance Funding: Provides $241 billion for operation and maintenance –$3.1 billion above request and $24.1 billion above fiscal year 2017 enacted level. This funding supports key readiness programs to prepare our troops for combat and peacetime missions, including flight time and battle training, equipment and facility maintenance, and base operations.
- Research and Development: The bill contains $84.3 billion – $82.7 billion for base requirements and $1.6 billion for OCO/GWOT requirements – for research, development, testing, and evaluation of new defense technologies.
- Equipment Procurement: The legislation provides a total of $149 billion – $132.5 billion for base requirements and $16.5 billion for OCO/GWOT requirements – for equipment and upgrades.
- Defense Health Program: Provides $34 billion for the Defense Health Program, including $120 million for peer-reviewed breast cancer research, $90 million for prostate cancer research, and $30 million for other cancer-related research.
Energy and Water Appropriations:
- Denali Commission - Provides $11 million to the Denali Commission, an independent federal agency established in 1998 to deliver government services – through a state and federal partnership – to rural and traditionally impoverished communities in Alaska.
- Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule – Authorizes the Administrator of the Environment Protection Agency and the Secretary of the Army to withdraw the Waters of the United States rule.
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
§ Kotzebue Small Boat Harbor – $370K
§ Lowell Creek Tunnel Flood Diversion - $950K
§ Saint George Harbor Improvement - $362K
§ Unalaska (Dutch) Harbor - $950K
o Operations and Maintenance:
§ Port of Anchorage – $10.26 M
§ Chena River Lakes – S8.038M
§ Chignik Harbor – $150K
§ Dillingham Harbor– $850K
§ Douglas Harbor– $300K
§ Homer Harbor – $600K
§ Inspection of Completed Work, AK – $200K
§ Ninilchik Harbor – $550K
§ Nome Harbor – $2.365 M
§ Project Conditions Survey, AK – $750K
Legislative Branch Appropriations:
- Members of Congress Pay: Maintains a pay freeze for members of Congress that began in 2009. Supports projects related to district security.
- Capitol Police: Supports additional funding for critical safety operations and enhanced security functions.
- Member’s Representational Allowance (MRA): Maintains MRA at levels more than 12% below FY2010 enacted levels.