House Passes Funding Authorization for Utah Military Projects
The U.S. House of Representatives has given approval to H.R. 5658, the National Defense Authorization Act, which grants billions in budget authority for the Department of Defense (DOD), as well as sets policies, programs and funding levels for the nation's military.
Utah Congressman Rob Bishop, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has announced that the annual defense bill also includes tens of millions of dollars in funding authorizations for military spending in Utah.
"This bill provides for our national defense and gives our troops the funds and support they need," Congressman Bishop said. The northern Utah lawmaker, whose district includes practically all of Utah's military installations, continued, "We had some good wins this year too in steering some important funding towards Hill Air Force Base, and with the great work that's done there, it's funding that is well-deserved."
Some of the Utah highlights which Mr. Bishop helped secure include:
• $5.65 million in Air Force military construction funding for a new 3-Bay Fire Station for Hill AFB. This project would be located on the East Side of the runway and provide more adequate fire protection for industrial and future operations on that side of the base, making future expansion of additional missions there possible.
• $2 million for the Ogden Air Logistics Center/Hill AFB and the Science, Engineering and Laboratory Data Integration (SELDI) program. This ongoing program, funded for many years by Congress, allows Hill to gain access to important private sector engineering and IT support that help reduce repair costs and duplications in depot maintenance operations. Improvements in productivity can assist in obtaining future work as reflected in more efficient overhead rates.
• $5 million in Air Force research and development funding for the Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory in developing Small, Low-Cost Satellites. This multi-year effort will lead to the design and fabrication of satellite components for customizable satellites that can be used in battlefield operations at a fraction of the cost of traditional satellite systems.
• $5 million for the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Crypto Upgrade program. Work on this program would likely occur at the Ogden Air Logistics Center, and involve the upgrading of digital cryptography systems onto the Minuteman III ICBM to improve the nuclear security of our nation's ICBM fleet, as well as reduce maintenance support costs of existing crypto systems which are over 40 years old.
• $2 million for Tooele Army Depot for an Unserviceable Ammunition Demilitarization program. As one of the Army's main ammunition and munitions storage and supply depots, Tooele is also one of many locations nationwide responsible for the storage and eventual destruction of obsolete conventional munitions. This funding will help Tooele develop newer, more advanced and environmentally friendly methods of munitions disposal.
• $5.5 million in Air Force funding for Supersonic Cruise Missile Engine Test and Development. Funding would be used to continue a multi-year effort in conjunction with Air Force Laboratory to develop our nation's first supersonic cruise missile. Russia and India recently announced that they had fielded a supersonic cruise missile, and the U.S., the originator of cruise missile technology, risks falling behind the technological curve if this effort is not continued. Ogden's Williams International is the provider of the engines and technology for the program.
• Army Rail Shop Study. Report Language was included requiring the Army to study and report to Congress on alternatives for relocating its Rail Shop operations currently located in leased space at Hill AFB, to other locations, including Tooele Army Depot. This study is the first-step for the Army to implement a plan for relocation of the shop, hopefully to other locations within the State of Utah. Moving the location would help the Air Force proceed on the vital Westside Development project at Hill.
Besides the project funding backed primarily by Congressman Bishop, the National Defense Authorization Act also included funding for Utah-specific items called for in the President's original budget, such as $41 million for Military Construction projects at Hill AFB and $17.5 million for the Utah National Guard at Camp Williams. The bill also fully funds programs with important Utah ties such as the F-22 and F-35 programs.
In total, H.R. 5658 authorizes $602 billion for the Department of Defense and the national security functions of the Department of Energy. The bill also includes funding for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The legislation would raise the pay rates of members of the armed forces by 3.9% and would prohibit the Department of Defense from increasing premiums and fees associated with TRICARE, the military's health plan for active duty and retired personnel.
"I'm afraid it's pretty rare these days that Congress figures out how to fulfill one of its basic Constitutional duties, and do it in a truly bi-partisan way, but in this case that is pretty much what happened," Congressman Bishop said. "This isn't a perfect bill, and there are some things like cuts to missile defense that need to be fixed, but our fighting men and women deserve the kind of consensus support this legislation received. They do amazing work in helping keep America strong and secure, and this bill will help them in that cause."