Congressman Bishop Scores Wins for Utah Defense Interests
Military Construction – Congressman Bishop requested and received authorization for $4.9 million for an Operations and Maintenance Facility for the 729th Air Control Squadron, replacing an existing facility that is outdated and outgrown. In addition, Bishop was able to help protect funding in the President's request for other Hill AFB projects including:
$13 million for a Munitions Storage Facility
$13.1 million for a Fitness Center
$1.81 million for Small Diameter Bomb Storage Igloos
$1 million for a Munitions Maintenance Facility
The bill also contained authorization for a $7.9 million addition to the existing Browning Army Reserve Center in Ogden.
The Freshman Republican, whose district encompasses Hill Air Force Base and most military installations in Utah, commented, "This was a very tough year to get extra funds for important construction projects because of all of the competing demands during wartime. I feel good about these particular military construction projects that will help make Hill AFB more modernized and improve the quality of life for military families stationed there."
Minuteman III Replacement Program – As a Member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee on Armed Services, Congressman Bishop was successful in fending off a proposed $80 million cut in the President's budget for Minuteman III Propulsion Replacement Program. "Some members were trolling for areas to cut to fund other projects. Since strategic missile programs are not in vogue right now with some people, Minuteman modernization became a target. I am pleased that I was able to stop that cut at both the subcommittee and committee levels," stated Bishop. Many jobs at Hill AFB and with Utah defense contractors such as ATK Thiokol rely upon this program funding. "In addition to saving Utah jobs, continuing to modernize our land-based strategic missile fleet is crucial to national security as we maintain this strong and viable deterrent on into the future. Missiles wear-out and become unreliable over time, but we're not going to build any new strategic missiles any time soon. So there is no alternative to this modernization program right now," stated Bishop.
Ballistic Missile Defense – Representative Bishop successfully argued to defeat an amendment brought by Congresswoman Sanchez (D-CA) to cut $75 million from the Kinetic Energy Interceptor Program (KEI). The Congressman said, "This cut would have directly impacted workloads at ATK Thiokol and Clearfield. Again, not only would hundreds of Utah jobs have been negatively impacted, but U.S. defense posture would have been harmed. We must proceed with a robust missile defense program. I feel very good about this win."
RAMOS - The Russian American Observational Satellite Program (RAMOS) is a joint U.S.- Russian cooperative program in the area of missile defense that has been in development for approximately a decade. The Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) at Utah State University has been the lead for the U.S. in developing this program. Unfortunately, the Missile Defense Agency through which RAMOS has been funded terminated the program in the FY'05 budget due to budget and technology transfer concerns, potentially cutting numerous high-tech jobs at SDL. Congressman Bishop was successful on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee in restoring $5 million for restructuring of the RAMOS effort. "The RAMOS termination was a surprise to Congress," stated Bishop. "I am pleased that we salvaged some funding for this program with Northern Utah ties. This money allows SDL additional time to hopefully restructure the Russian cooperative effort with the Missile Defense Agency and keep important high-tech jobs in Logan."
Supporting the Troops and Government Employees - The bill contained $25 billion in extra funding to provide additional modernized equipment for troops in Iraq. It also contained language equalizing many of the special pay provisions between currently mobilized Guard and Reserve members and the active duty forces. Bishop stated, "These were common sense provisions which go directly to supporting our troops." Bishop also supported a compromise provision by Congressman Joel Hefley to strengthen the rights of defense civilian workers in competition with the private sector for new workloads. "This provision will help current government workers compete for contracts on a level playing field," Bishop added.
Base Closure (BRAC) – Congressman Bishop joined with colleagues on the Readiness Subcommittee to include language delaying the 2005 round of defense base closure and realignments for two years. Congressman Bishop commented: "This provision may not hold up through the entire legislative process, and it doesn't necessarily add a strategic advantage to Utah's military installations, but it hopefully sends a message to the Pentagon and the Administration that Congress is paying close attention to this process to make sure they follow the law and don't go overboard with the cuts. There are some members, including me, who wouldn't mind permanently stopping BRAC altogether, and this could be a step in that direction."
Government Maintenance Depots and BRAC - The House Depot Caucus, of which Bishop is a key member, included language requiring that the Department of Defense adhere strictly to industrial policy statutes (commonly referred to as the 50-50 rule) guaranteeing a minimum government maintenance depot system in any future BRAC recommendation whenever it occurs (whether in 2005 or 2007). Such a provision would greatly improve the chances of the Ogden Air Logistics Center and Hill AFB weathering a future BRAC, as opposed to possibly having workloads currently done there be outsourced to private contractors through BRAC decisions. Bishop concluded, "Jim Hansen got this 50-50 language done originally; we're just trying to protect some of his good work that benefits Northern Utah."