First Fiscal Year 2019 Funding Package to President’s Desk

Supporting Alaska’s Strategic Military Presence, Veterans’ Healthcare, Infrastructure Projects, and Energy Innovation

The Senate last night passed a conference report on a package to fund Energy and Water; Military Construction-Veterans Affairs; and Legislative Branch for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, which begins October 1, 2018. U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a member of the Appropriations Committee, secured provisions that will increase energy efficiency, support our veterans, and increase critical military construction across the state of Alaska. This afternoon, the House passed the conference report, which now goes to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“Throughout the process of passing appropriations bills, creating opportunities for Alaskans has remained my priority. This funding package invests in developing clean, diverse, and reliable energy, and making home-heating and energy costs more affordable for Alaskans. It also prioritizes Alaska’s strategic military presence and invests in the health and well-being of Alaska’s veterans ---much needed support for our nation’s heroes,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m proud of this bipartisan funding package that capitalizes on energy opportunities, increases innovation, and bolsters our nation’s defense capabilities --- all with Alaska’s unique needs and opportunities in mind.”

Military Construction:

  • Provides a total of $286.8 million for military construction projects in Alaska, which includes $63.8 million for projects at Eielson Air Force Base related to the F-35 beddown;
  • Clear Air Force Station: $174 million for Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) Phase II;
  • Fort Greely: $8 million for the improvement of the existing missile field #1;
  • Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson: $41 million for two projects, an operations facility replacement and U.S. property and fiscal office. 

Veterans Affairs:

  • Access to Care for Rural Alaska Veterans: Senator Murkowski inserted language allowing the VA to purchase healthcare from the Alaska Native Healthcare System and Federally Qualified Health Centers, separate and apart from the existing Choice Program.
  • State Prescription Drug Monitoring: Murkowski secured language requiring the VA to report to Congress on its progress in participation in State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, including requiring that the VA establish benchmarks and timelines to ensure full participation and identify any impediments to full participation.
  • Opioid Abuse: Provides $348 million for opioid treatment and prevention programs for veterans.
  • Electronic Health Records: The bill provides $1.1 billion for the Veterans Electronic Health Record system investments to improve the efficiency and accuracy of veterans’ healthcare. 

Energy and Water:

  • Methane Hydrates: The bill includes $20 million to further research the production of natural gas from methane hydrates, as well as report language secured by Senator Murkowski encouraging the Secretary of Energy to perform a long-term methane hydrate production test in the Arctic. Alaska’s Arctic contains an estimated 32,600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas locked in ice crystals – enough to meet domestic demand for more than for 1,000 years.
  • State Energy Program: Provides $55 million to invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and emergency preparedness.
  • Small, Remote, Subsistence Harbors: Includes $54 million for Small, Remote, Subsistence Harbors maintenance and includes report language that the Army Corps of Engineers shall consider selection of a small, remote, or subsistence navigation study for new starts.
  • Arctic Energy: The package includes language supporting the promotion of research, development, and deployment of electric power technologies that are cost-effective and suited to meet the needs of rural and remote regions and encourages the Department of Energy to support a renewed focus on the Arctic region and use the Arctic Energy Office as a centralized area to support the use of diverse energy resources.
  • Weatherization Assistance Program: Increases funding to $254 million, a $6 million increase, to improve the energy efficiency of low-income families’ homes.
  • Denali Commission: Includes $15 million for the Commission tasked with coordination of construction and infrastructure efforts in rural Alaska.

Legislative Branch:

  • Paid Internships: Equalizes the playing field for young adults to temporarily relocate to Washington D.C. by including $5 million for U.S. Senate offices to pay office interns.
  • U.S. Capitol Police: Includes funding for the U.S. Capitol Police to support enhanced security efforts.
  • U.S. Senate: Provides increased funding to invest in Senate cybersecurity capabilities and training for staff.

Related Issues: Budget, Spending, and the National Debt