Military Construction, VA, and Transportation Funding Bill Passes the Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 2577, the THUD/MILCON-VA Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2017, by a vote of 89-8. The bill contains numerous Alaska-specific provisions secured by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), including $561 million to support crucial defense projects in the state. It also addresses critical healthcare issues in the Alaska VA, and includes support for transportation programs that provide vital services for many Alaskans.

Military Construction:

Murkowski secured the full $561 million requested by the Pentagon to construct major new defense facilities in Alaska. Eighty percent of that funding is allocated to support the arrival of two F-35 squadrons at Eielson Air Force Base and the Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear Air Force Station. These construction projects are expected to generate as much as 2,689 new jobs, and will result in an additional 1,630 permanent jobs. Click here for more detailed information on the secured funds.

“While Alaska is set to receive a larger share of the 2017 military construction budget than any other state, these investments are incredibly important for the security of our entire nation,” said Senator Murkowski. “This funding bill not only allows us to obtain the resources that we need to support our military efforts, such as preparing for the arrival of the F-35’s at Eielson Air Force Base and building the Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear; it also represents a resurgence for Alaska’s construction industry, and thousands of new full-time jobs at a time when Alaska’s economy needs it most.”

Veterans Affairs (VA):

Murkowski, as a member of MILCON-VA Appropriations Subcommittee, worked to include language in the bill that addresses a series of important issues facing the Alaska VA, including fixes to the deeply flawed Choice Program, filling provider vacancies at the VA Clinic and addressing the operating rooms at the Anchorage VA Clinic that were closed due to design and construction defects. Click here for details on the included language.

“I am heartened by the increased funding for women veterans, the continued focus on ending veteran homelessness, and a new focus on security and suicide prevention at the VA domiciliaries, which includes the domiciliary in Anchorage. This bill clearly expresses the principle that a veteran should enjoy access to healthcare, no matter where in the nation he or she resides. I thank the committee for very clearly expressing that this principle applies equally if the veteran lives in our 49th state – the state of Alaska.”

Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development:

Whether it is Alaska’s vast size or remoteness, transportation is vital for Alaskans. Murkowski worked to ensure that specific provisions are included in this bill that take into account the importance of transportation funding in Alaska. Click here for specific items of note in the bill such as funding for highway transportation projects, and the Essential Air Service.

“Alaska’s transportation needs are unique and diverse, and I thank my fellow Senate appropriators for providing the funds to address these needs,” said Senator Murkowski. “Many of the programs supported in this appropriations bill provide critical services to some of Alaska most at-risk populations. As the state grapples with a major financial crisis, these funds are more critical than ever to support Alaska’s transportation and infrastructure needs.”

Related Issues: Defense, Veterans