Murkowski Votes in Favor of Funding Package to Benefit Alaska
Supports Defense, Labor, Health, and Education in Alaska
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today voted in favor of the Conference Report for H.R. 6157, a funding package which includes the Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2019 and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The funding package includes the largest pay raise for troops in nearly a decade, funding for a new national firefighter cancer registry, and support for high quality educational and job training opportunities for Alaskans of all ages. Senator Murkowski, as a senior member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped craft the original Senate version of the bill, which passed by a vote of 85-7 on August 24. The bill also contains a continuing resolution (CR) through December 7, 2018, for any appropriations bills not enacted before October 1, 2018, the start of Fiscal Year 2019.
The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 93-7. Following passage in the House, which is expected to vote on the legislation next week, the bill will be sent to the President’s desk for his signature.
“The funding package that passed the Senate today is significant to the economic prosperity and security of our nation and for Alaska. This legislation will bolster our defense capabilities by modernizing some of our existing facilities, strengthening our training, and emphasizing the importance of further developing Alaska’s strategic military presence in the Arctic.” said Senator Murkowski. “We also invest in Alaskans’ workforce training and education. By directing funds to programs that will support high-quality, locally-led job training and education initiatives, we’re giving Alaskans the opportunity to fill good Alaskan jobs and to support the economic livelihood of our state. Another initiative that I’m proud was included in the Conference Report is support for legislation I co-sponsored, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, which prioritizes the health and safety of both paid and unpaid firefighters. With the input of my fellow Alaskans, the support of my Senate colleagues, and the collaboration of the conference committee, I’m proud of priorities we’ve secured to help meet the unique needs of Alaska.”
- Modernizing Air Force Training Ranges: Includes $88.9 million for modernizations, including the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex in Interior Alaska, to meet the challenges of preparing fighter pilots for fifth generation warfare. These funds will pay for new technology such as threat emulators, targets and decoys, detection systems and communications equipment which will enable F-22 and F-35 crews to prepare for advances in the air warfare capabilities of potential adversaries.
- Spaceports: Provides $10 million to ensure private spaceports, like Pacific Spaceport Alaska in Kodiak, maintain their readiness to carry out defense missions.
- Innovative Readiness Training: Provides a $10 million budget increase for the Innovative Readiness Training program, which brings military reservists from across the country to Alaska for advanced training in remote construction and healthcare delivery.
- Secure Power Generation: Contains $8 million to determine the feasibility of secure power generation and distribution on military facilities in remote environments. Second year funding of $3 million is provided for an evaluation of distributed generation on Eielson Air Force Base.
- Precision Approach Radar: Provides $5 million to replace an aging Precision Approach Radar at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
- Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility: Provides a $4 million increase for improvements to the Corps of Engineers Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility near Fairbanks.
- Arctic Sustainment Package: Provides for the purchase of additional Arctic Sustainment Packages for the Alaska Air National Guard from a $900 million fund to purchase equipment for the National Guard and Reserves. Arctic Sustainment Packages are used by search and rescue elements of the Alaska Air National Guard to sustain rescuers and victims in Arctic environments.
- Water Supply Contamination Reimbursement: Includes $45 million to reimburse community water supply agencies for contamination of certain firefighting foam chemicals used at Air Force installations, including Eielson Air Force Base and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
- Military Pay Raise: Includes funds to provide for a 2.6% pay increase to military personnel.
- Arctic Broadband Infrastructure: Includes language that requires the Defense Department to evaluate the current state of broadband infrastructure in the Arctic against anticipated needs and to report on the balance between supply and demand of critical and strategic minerals which are used in defense hardware.
- Health Research and Development Programs: Provides $1.17 billion for congressionally directed medical research programs. Senator Murkowski once again championed funding for research into ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) by providing $10 million to the program. The VA has determined that the presence of ALS in veterans is presumed to be service connected, as they are disproportionately affected by ALS.
- Missile Defense: Provides $10.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency, which includes funding for a new space based program to track incoming missiles. It fully funds the President’s budget request of $500 million to support Israeli cooperative missile defense programs supported by Senator Murkowski.
- F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircrafts: The measure would provide $9.34 billion for 93 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which would be 16 more than requested.
- Family Advocacy Program: Adds $10 million to the Defense Family Advocacy Program targeted to address recent reports about child-on-child sexual assaults on military installations.
LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES HIGHLIGHTS
- Alaska Native Educational Equity Program (ANEP): Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, $35.4 million is provided to fund supplemental educational programs that help meet the unique needs of Alaska Native schoolchildren.
- Strengthening Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions: Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, provides $15.9 million to strengthen Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions, including several University of Alaska campuses.
National Initiatives Important for Alaskans:
- Training and Employment Services Grants to States: Maintains level funding of $2.7 billion for state-led job training programs for youth, adults, and dislocated workers.
- Job Corps: Includes level funding at $1.7 billion to provide career and technical training to young Alaskans at facilities such as the Alaska Job Corps Center in Palmer.
- Firefighter Cancer Registry: Includes bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Senators Murkowski and Menendez to create a national registry for firefighters diagnosed with cancer was signed into law in July 2018. This funding package includes Senators Murkowski and Menendez’s amendment to provide $1 million for the CDC to start up that firefighter cancer registry.
- 21st Century Community Learning Centers: Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, maintains funding at $1.2 billion to support afterschool programs to give working parents peace of mind and keep kids safe and engaged in learning after school.
- AmeriCorps State and National Grants: Provides $425 million, an increase of $13 million, to help state agencies and local organizations meet community needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.
- Head Start Program: Provides $10 billion for the Head Start program—a $200 million increase—to support high quality early childhood education nationwide, including for 3,000 young Alaskans in 100 communities.
- Child Care and Development Block Grant: Increases funding to $5.27 billion to assist child care providers to better meet the needs of low-income working families who seek high-quality, affordable child care.
- Education for Homeless Children and Youth: $93,500,000, an increase of $8 million, to assist school districts to serve homeless children and youth and their families.
- Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities: Includes increased funding to $31.8 million to support colleges and universities like Ilisagvik College in Utgiagvik, formerly known as Barrow.
- Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants: Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, increased funding to $1.17 billion to help schools provide a well-rounded education, provide programs for safe and healthy students, and to integrate technology into schools.
- Ready-to-Learn Television: Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, maintains funding at $27.7 million to develop educational programming and media to support the early education of preschool and elementary school students.
- Indian Education National Activities: Maintains funding at $6.865 million, including no less than $2.026 million for Native American and Alaska Native Language Immersion Schools and Programs grants, created by Senator Murkowski in 2016 due to the significant cognitive, psychological, and academic benefits of schools where the indigenous language is the primary language of instruction.
- Indian Education Grants: Maintains funding at $180 million to address the unique education and culturally related academic needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students.
- Career and Technical Education State Grants (Carl D. Perkins): Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, increases funding to $1.26 billion to help train youth and young adults for careers.
- Special Olympics: Increased funding by $2.5 million to $17.6 million to support the work of the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Over 2,000 athletes are empowered by Special Olympics Alaska, training and competing in 16 different Olympic-type sports.
- Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program: Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, includes $10.5 million, a $2 million increase, to help provide free health screenings and training for medical professionals to provide more effective care.
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Proposed to be phased out by the Administration, maintains level funding of $445 million for public radio, television, and related online and mobile services. This is especially critical due to diminishing state funds for public broadcasting – the main news source for many communities throughout Alaska.
- Institute for Museum and Library Services: Proposed to be phased out by the Administration, provides $242 million—an increase of $2 million—that will help Alaska’s libraries and museums serve their communities, such as National Medal awardee the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, and National Medal finalists Craig Public Library, Haines Borough Public Library, Juneau Public Libraries, and the Ketchikan Public Library.
- LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program): Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, provides an additional $50 million, for a total of $3.69 billion, to provide assistance with home energy costs to low-income households, with a focus on seniors and homes with young children.