Senate Passes First Fiscal Year 2019 Funding Package

Energy and Water, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently voted in favor of a funding package, which combines the Energy and Water; Military Construction-Veterans Affairs; and Legislative Branch Appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. The bill, also known as a “minibus,” provides funding to further develop Alaska’s strategic military presence, improve health services for veterans, support critical infrastructure projects, and promote energy innovation and investments in renewable energy. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Murkowski secured provisions that will allow Alaska to capitalize on energy opportunities, including efficiency, innovation, infrastructure, and energy systems. This appropriations bundle is the first FY 2019 Appropriations bill to pass the Senate.

“I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in our work to advance appropriations bills in a bipartisan manner, but more importantly I’m proud that we have prioritized creating opportunities for Alaskans. We are putting our people first by promoting energy development, investing in rural infrastructure, and giving our military and veterans the support they need,” said Senator Murkowski. “This funding will help make Alaskans’ homes more energy efficient and provide solutions to make energy more reliable, clean, affordable, and diverse. The bill not only puts the health and well-being of our veterans as a top priority, but also provides critical resources to support our military’s efforts in Alaska to protect the entire nation.”

The 2019 Fiscal Year begins October 1, 2018.

Military, Construction-VA Highlights:

  • Alaska Military Construction: $63.8 million for four projects at Eielson Air Force Base related to the F-35 beddown, $174 million for Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) Phase II at Clear Air Force Station, $41 million for two projects on Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, and $8 million for the improvement of the existing missile field #1 at Fort Greely.
  • 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.

For a full list of priorities for Alaska contained in the bill click here.

Energy and Water Highlights:

  • Arctic Energy: Senator Murkowski successfully included report language that supports 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, especially where permafrost is present. The bill also 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 energy resources and innovative activities, including microgrids, alternative energy development, and integrated energy systems.
  • Hydropower Energy: Strengthens the development of hydropower projects by authorizing the expansion of Terror Lake in Kodiak to provide nearly 100 percent renewable power to Kodiak and the nation’s largest U.S. Coast Guard base; authorizes a stay of the Mahoney Lake Hydroelectric Project in Ketchikan to be considered for future power needs; and conveys 25.8 additional acres of land to the Southeast Alaska Power Association to expand the Swan Lake project.
  • Denali Commission: Includes $15 million for the Commission tasked with coordination of construction and infrastructure efforts in rural Alaska.
  • State Energy Program: Provides $55 million to invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and emergency preparedness.

For a full list of priorities for Alaska contained in the bill click here.

Legislative Branch Highlights:

  • 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 $453 million for the U.S. Capitol Police, to address concerns related to security, increase officer and civilian staffing, provide some lifecycle replacement for equipment, and allow the Department to continue mission-essential training.
  • U.S. Senate: Provides increased funding to invest in Senate cybersecurity capabilities and training for staff.

For a full list of priorities for Alaska contained in the bill click here.

Related Issues: Energy, Defense, Veterans