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Government Shutdown Avoided; Short-Term Funding Bill Good for Alaska

Includes Funding for Alaska-Based Military Projects and Veterans Affairs Funding


September 29, 2016
Thursday PM

(SitNews) Washington, D. C. - A Continuing Resolution (CR) Appropriations Package was passed by Congress yesterday, which funds the federal government short-term through December 9, 2016. In addition to providing the full Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations, the bill contains $1.1 billion in emergency funding to fight and prevent the spread of the Zika virus and $37 million to help fight the nation’s opioid epidemic.

In a prepared statement, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said, “By passing the continuing resolution [Wednesday], 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 [Continuing Resolution] 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," said Murkowski, a senior member on the Appropriations Committee.

"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," said Murkowski. "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.”

Senator Murkowski also 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.

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said in a prepared statement, “While I fundamentally disagree with the process, it was important to ensure that the government of the United States was kept up and running. Government shutdowns are disruptive to our economy and hurt our country’s morale."

Sullivan said, "Going forward, I am committed to reforming the system so that our government is not held hostage to competing political agendas and to political factions on both sides of aisle. To be clear, for the second straight year, all 12 appropriations bills were passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. This year, they passed by a cumulative vote of 345 to 15. Even with this extraordinary level of bipartisanship in committee, the Democrat Minority turned around and chose to engage in filibusters on the Senate floor, blocking defense spending five times alone. This must change and I will work with my colleagues to change it."

“With specific regard to the MilCon/VA funding, I want to especially thank Senator Murkowski for fighting to ensure that Alaska’s priorities are included in federal appropriations bills, especially the military construction funds for the F-35s at Eielson Air Force Base as well working to address the important issues facing the Alaska VA.”

“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.”

“As I’ve said before, shutting down the government is both shortsighted and irresponsible," said U.S. Representative Don Young (R-AK). "Ultimately, it hurts the American people – our military, our senior citizens, our small businesses and the working people of Alaska and the nation.”

Congressman Don Young said this short-term spending measure is certainly not a perfect approach, but we were able to include a tremendous amount of good for Alaska and the nation – vital funding to support our troops, major improvements and reforms for our veterans, and efforts to address the nation’s growing opioid epidemic.

Young said, "By prioritizing investments to support Defense infrastructure projects and improve the Department of Veteran Affairs, this bill will have a tremendous impact on Alaska – not only for our economy and our local communities but for the defense of our nation and the wellbeing of our veterans."

" Although there’s much work to be done when Congress returns – including a number of major reforms and policy provisions to roll back many of this Administration’s destructive rules and regulations – I’m pleased that Congress could put its differences aside to focus on the immediate needs of the nation," said Young.

The bill provides $7.9 billion to fund military family housing, Guard and Reserve facilities, and military bases in the U.S. and around the world, including numerous projects in Alaska requested by Congressman Don Young – totaling $561 million dollars.

Clear Air Force Station:

  • $20 million for a Fire Station
  • $155 million for Phase 1 of the Long Range Discrimination Radar

Eielson Air Force Base:

  • $22 million to renovate the Field Training Detachment Facility for F-35s
  • $79.5 million to build a 16-bay Weather Shelter for the 1st squadron of F-35s
  • $83 million to build a 16-bay Weather Shelter for the 2nd squadron of F-35s
  • $11.3 million to build Earth Covered magazines for F-35s
  • $44.9 million to build a 4 bay hangar/Maintenance/Corrosion Control Facility for F-35s
  • $42.7 million to build a 4-bay F-35A Maintenance Hangar/Squadron Operations Center
  • $12.8 million to build a Missile Maintenance Facility for F-35s

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER):

  • $29.1 million to add to and alter the JBER Alert AWACS Hangar
  • $4.9 million for a Fuel Offload Facility

Fort Greely:

  • $9.56 million for a Missile Defense Switchgear Facility

Fort Wainwright:

  • $47 million for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Hangar

In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a total of $74.4 billion in discretionary funding for medical services which include critical funding for mental health, suicide prevention, traumatic brain injury, services for homeless veterans, and rural health initiatives. Congressman Young supported a number of items of Alaskan interest, including:

  • $250 million for Rural Health Initiative: Continues the VA’s rural health initiative to provide access and quality care to veterans in rural areas, including home-based primary care, rural Community Based Outpatient Clinics, transportation of rural veterans, and home-based therapies.
  • $29.3 million for Indian Health Services Reimbursement: Used to reimburse Indian Health Service (IHS) for direct health care services provided to eligible American Indian and Alaska Native veterans in IHS facilities.
  • $7.9 billion for Mental Health Programs: Ensures the VA has the adequate funding for treating veterans with mental health issues. $164 million of this amount is specifically set aside for suicide prevention outreach.
  • $173 million for Suicide Prevention Programs: Funds programs designed to prevent the incredible tragedy of 20 veteran suicides per day.
  • VA Contracts with Tribal Health Care Centers: Allows the VA to enter into agreements with Federally Qualified Health Centers in the State of Alaska and with Indian tribes and tribal organizations which are party to the Alaska Native Health Compact with the Indian Health Service. These contracts are critical to ensuring veterans in rural Alaska can access quality healthcare and services.
  • Medical Marijuana Provision: Allows VA physicians and health-care providers to make recommendations regarding marijuana to their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal.



Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Office of Congressman Don Young

Office of U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

Office of U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan



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