House Passes Defense Bills, Backs Utah Military Projects
Congressman Rob Bishop, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, announced that the U.S. House of Representatives has approved millions of dollars in funding authorizations for military spending in Utah as well as a land transfer for the Utah National Guard at Camp Williams, as part of two defense-related bills passed today.
The transfer of federal lands at Camp Williams to the State of Utah was first proposed by Bishop as a stand-alone bill but was included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress today. Having the State of Utah own title to these lands near existing Camp Williams Headquarters buildings will further facilitate the Guard getting important new missions and facilities, and streamline and simplify the process for the Utah National Guard in reaching its expansion goals.
The other piece of legislation passed today – a continuing resolution to keep the government funded –also included a list of priority defense projects in the Beehive State set to receive funding.
"First and foremost, these bills are for our military, and giving our troops the support and infrastructure they need to keep doing their jobs so well," Congressman Bishop said. The northern Utah lawmaker, whose district includes practically all of Utah's military installations, continued, "I'm proud of what our soldiers do, and I'm proud this legislation backs them up. I'm also proud to secure so much funding for defense projects in Utah. Our installations and personnel are really on the front lines and the cutting edge of our national defense, and money spent in Utah is money well spent. Finally, getting this land transfer done for Camp Williams will be critical down the road for expansion and future missions for our National Guard."
Below are details on some of the projects from today's House action which Congressman Bishop requested and pushed, which will positively impact Utah's military installations and defense sector:
• Hill AFB Automated Composite Technologies Manufacturing Center (with ATK) $5 million –This builds on funding received the last few years to help develop Ogden ALC as a "Center of Excellence" for Carbon Fiber aircraft parts repair and manufacturing, which is the future of maintaining all advanced aircraft and weapons systems.
• Hill Air Force Base Military Construction: Three-Bay Fire Station, $5.67 Million. This project will correct a safety deficiency at Hill AFB for emergency response times by firefighting personnel and help further develop the East Side of the runway.
• Small Low-Cost Reconnaissance Spacecraft Components, USU-SDL, $1.6 Million. This continues funding Mr. Bishop secured last year to help USU-SDL develop space components for the military that will be cheaper to produce and offer more flexibility over more traditional and more costly satellite programs.
• Science, Engineering and Laboratory Data Integration (SELDI), $800,000. SELDI helps the Ogden ALC be more productive by eliminating duplicate spare parts and making technical data more accessible to depot personnel.
• Tomahawk Missile Cost Reduction Initiative, $1.6 million – This helps Williams International in Ogden save taxpayers money by reducing the engine production costs for the missile system.
• Dugway Lidar Radar Improvements, $2.4 million - This will modernize Dugway's capabilities to the state of the art detection system for certain chemical and biological agents in their important defensive testing work.
• UH-60 Improved Communications (ARC 220) Radios, Utah National Guard, $1.6 million – This will directly help the Utah National Guard by putting the latest longer-range radios into the Blackhawks they operate.
Other general highlights of the National Defense Authorization Act include:
• A 3.9% pay raise for all members of the Armed Forces in 2009.
• Additional funding for force protection needs in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, including $1.7 billion for state-of-the-art Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.
• $2.1 billion for an additional 6 C-17's to support intra-theater airlift requirements and meet the airlift needs for the increased end strength in the Army and Marine Corps.
• $2.9 billion for 20 additional F-22A aircraft in 2009 and $523 million in advanced procurement funding for 20 additional aircraft in 2010.
• Restores $309 million for missile defense that was cut in the House-version of the defense bill, including the restoration of $124 million for European missile defense interceptors and radars.
• Additional increases of 7,000 Army and 5,000 Marine Corps active duty personnel to sustain our required missions.
• An additional $800 million for National Guard equipment. The final legislation also increases full-time manning for the Army National Guard to 32,060 and the Air National Guard to 14,360.
• Extends the prohibition the committee enacted last year on increases to TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Standard.
• Extends the prohibition the committee enacted last year on retail pharmacy cost share increases.
• Enhances certain Department of Defense authorities to train and equip foreign forces, lend needed equipment to coalition partners, provide limited funds to the Department of State for security and stabilization efforts, and allow Defense Department officials to work more closely with their foreign counterparts.
After final passage of both pieces of legislation, Congressman Bishop commented: "While they might not contain everything I'd like to see, the final defense-related bills we saw this week show the good results when both sides of the aisle work together on our most important responsibility – providing for the national defense. Utah will be better off because of this funding, but more importantly our country will be safer and more secure, and our troops will get more of what they need and deserve."