Senate Passes Continuing Resolution, Funds Military Construction Programs for Alaska

Murkowski Votes for Short-Term Funding Bill, Includes Funding for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs for Fiscal Year 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) released the following statement after voting for the continuing resolution (H.R. 5325) that passed the Senate, 72-26:

“By passing the continuing resolution today, we have avoided an unnecessary government shutdown, which would have harmed individuals, families, and businesses across the nation. And we provided funding to combat the public threat from the Zika virus, as well as address the heroin and opioid epidemic. 

“This bill is great news for Alaska, because the CR includes the full appropriations bill for military constructions and Veterans Affairs, which supports crucial defense projects in Alaska, creates thousands of new jobs, and takes care of our veterans. Alaska’s strategic position and strong support for our military continues to make Alaska one of the most important places for America’s national security. On the Defense Appropriations Committee, I have consistently pressed our military leadership to recognize the role Alaska plays for our national security and appreciate how Senator Dan Sullivan has reinforced that message from the Senate Armed Services Committee. Today our colleagues have recognized this fact by devoting the largest share of our annual military construction bill to investments in Alaska.”

Military Construction: As a senior member on the Appropriations Committee, Murkowski secured funding for the following projects in Alaska.

  • Construction of seven projects supporting the 2020-2021 beddown of 54 F-35 A Joint Strike Fighters at Eielson Air Force Base.
  • Construction the Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) at Clear Air Force Station.
  • Construction of a hangar to house the Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicles at Fort Wainwright.
  • Expansion and improvement of the Airborne Warning and Control Systems Alert Hanger at Joint Base Elmendorf- Richardson.
  • Construction of a new fire station at Clear Air Force Station.
  • Electrical improvements to the missile defense fields at Fort Greely.
  • Construction of a jet fuel truck offload facility at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

“This MilCon appropriation is a much-needed boost to Alaska’s construction economy for the next few years, and is even more important for our national defense over the next few decades,” said John MacKinnon, Associated Builders and Contractors of Alaska Executive Director. “I thank Senator Murkowski for looking out for all of us in Alaska.”

Supporting Local Hire: Senator Murkowski inserted language into the bill which encourages the use of Alaska contractors and the local workforce when the Department of Defense and Armed Services seeks contractors for military construction activities.

Veterans Affairs (VA): Murkowski worked to include language in the bill that addresses a series of issues important to Alaska veterans.

  • Access to Care: Urges the VA in Alaska to return to the integrated system of community care in place prior to implementation of the Choice Act, by directly referring eligible veterans to community providers, Community Health Centers, and Native health facilities for care that the VA cannot provide in its own facilities and in communities not served by the VA.
  • VA Purchased Care: Authorizes the VA to purchase care for rural veterans from Community Health Centers as well as the Alaska Native health system. The term rural has been expanded to include the Matanuska-Susitna and Kenai Peninsula Boroughs.
  • VA Staffing: Addresses staffing shortages within the Alaska VA Healthcare System, including the longstanding physician vacancy at the Wasilla Community Based Outpatient Clinic, by directing the VA to identify and resolve their provider recruitment challenges.
  • Anchorage VA Outpatient Clinic: Directs the VA to disclose its reasons for not re-opening two operating rooms in the Anchorage VA Outpatient Clinic and Regional Office Building after they were shut down in May 2015 due to dust and ventilation issues. In addition, presses the VA on whether it intends to repair the operating rooms in Fiscal Year 2017 or subsequent years.   

Background: In June 2016, Senator Murkowski was selected to serve on the Conference Committee tasked to reconcile the differences between the House of Representatives and Senate versions of the MilCon/VA appropriations bills.

Related Issues: Veterans, Defense, Budget, Spending, and the National Debt