Murkowski: Defense Budget Backs Alaska’s Military Equipment, Infrastructure and Agenda
Senator Promotes Alaska’s Prominent Role through Spending Bill
Senator Lisa Murkowski voted in the full Senate Appropriations Committee for the 2016 Defense Appropriations Bill, which contains several Alaska priorities she added and gathered support for. As a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee – which passed this bill earlier this week – Murkowski used her position there to raise the profile of Alaska’s military concerns, given the state’s rising significance in light of threats to the west and growing Arctic activity.
“Alaska’s military footprint has grown in the past year, with plans to expand even further through the F-35s, Gray Eagle and the long-range discrimination radar project – and this bill supports a number of those endeavors,” said Murkowski. “This bill also reflects some key Alaska concerns, whether it is addressing the contaminated former military sites in our state, studying the rampant medical condition of ALS among our troops or investing in cold weather gear as we step up our Arctic engagement.”
Supporting Military Equipment and Exercises:
- The bill supports “Fifth Generation Aircraft” like the F-22 and the F-35 programs for the Department of Defense, and adds funds to build Air Force variants of the F-35 over and above the President’s budget proposal.
- Funding for both the Northern Edge and Arctic Edge exercises has been increased by $3.7 million – and the money transferred from the U.S. Navy to U.S. Northern Command.
- Ground-based missile defense improvements at both Fort Greely in Alaska and a California site are fully funded.
America’s Arctic Agenda:
- Senator Murkowski won an amendment requiring that the Defense Department specifically break out how its annual spending plan implements its strategy to improve U.S. defense capabilities in the Arctic. On May 6th, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, testifying before the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, told Senator Murkowski “I think that a plan that is more than aspirational is needed.”
- The funding bill presses the Pentagon for a report on the prospective requirements for a Polar Class Icebreaker.
- The bill also includes a provision added by Senator Murkowski focused on the Arctic Center of Excellence, stating:
“It is important for the Department of Defense to continue to invest in training exercises, partnerships, infrastructure and capabilities necessary to meet strategic objectives in the Arctic and potential operations. The committee encourages the Defense Department and the Department of the Navy, in particular, to continue research efforts to develop security capabilities and strategies for the Arctic.” (Due by the end of 2015)
- The Committee encouraged the Department of Defense to fully fund cold weather protective equipment.
- Senator Murkowski won an amendment requiring the Defense Department Office of Economic Adjustment to report to Congress on funding that could be made available to communities to address the economic impact of major Army force structure reductions.
Restoring Contaminated Lands:
The spending bill adds $30 million to the Formerly Used Defense Site cleanup program, which has several Alaskan sites in need of work and sets aside $12 million exclusively for cleanup of Indian lands under the Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation ProgramFighting Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Senator Murkowski is seen as a leading Congressional advocate in the fight against Lou Gehrig’s disease nationwide, but she has also brought to light the disproportionate rate of ALS diagnoses among veterans of recent combat operations. The spending bill includes $10 million dedicated funds to the military’s peer-reviewed ALS research program.