Dec 18 2015
Contact: Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417 or Clint Riddle (202) 224-5972
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today voted in support of legislation to fund the federal government through fiscal year 2016. Graham cited an increase in military spending and several important South Carolina priorities in voting for the measure.
“This bill is far from perfect but it does take important steps to begin the long process of rebuilding our military. We have been asking more of our military, yet we have been asking them to do more with less. Our Armed Forces have suffered greatly from the impact of sequestration. That dynamic must change and this bill begins addressing the very real problems facing our military.
Graham also noted the legislation contains some important provisions for South Carolina including:
• Making South Carolina eligible for up to $300 million in funding to help cover losses associated with the historic October flooding in South Carolina. The funds could be used for unmet housing needs and to help the state’s agricultural industry which suffered tremendous losses.
• $340 million in funding for the construction and operation of the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility at Savannah River Site. The program will turn surplus weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear fuel to power a commercial nuclear reactor. For years, the Obama Administration has exercised poor oversight over MOX and has sought to terminate the program regardless of the consequences to our nation’s nonproliferation concerns or the interests of South Carolina.
• $92 million in funding to begin and complete construction of a new federal courthouse in Greenville. The new facility will be called the Carroll A. Campbell Jr. Federal Courthouse, in honor of the late Governor of South Carolina. It is expected to be a 10-story building built on two acres across the street from the Greenville County Courthouse.
BACKGROUND ON MILITARY SPENDING IN YEAR-END BILL
Readiness – $213.6 billion for operation and maintenance accounts to enable the Services to continue addressing their most urgent training and maintenance deficiencies. The bill also recommends an additional $608 million to reduce readiness shortfalls.
Aircraft Procurement – The bill addresses several unfunded requirements and boosts Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities through the procurement of multiple air frames such as seven additional E/A-18G Growler aircraft, five additional F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft, six additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for the Marine Corps, three additional F-35s for the Air Force, two additional F-35s for the Navy, four additional MQ-9 UAV Reaper aircraft for the Air Force, and a $500 million increase for ISR capabilities. In all, the bill provides $1.33 billion for eleven additional F-35s, $1.01 billion for 12 additional Navy Growlers and Super Hornets, and $80 million for four additional MQ-9 UAV Reapers.
Army Aviation Restructure Initiative (ARI) – The bill contains a provision limiting the number of National Guard Apaches that can be transferred in FY2016 to 48 aircraft until June 30, 2016. The provision conforms to the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (PL.114-92).
Shipbuilding – The bill provides $18.7 billion for Navy shipbuilding programs, an increase of $2.1 billion and one ship from the request. In total, the bill funds the construction of 11 new warships: two Virginia class submarines, two DDG-51 destroyers, three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), LPD 28 amphibious transport dock, one Joint High Speed Vessel, one Afloat Forward Staging Base ship and one T-AO Fleet Replenishment Oiler. The bill also provides incremental funding, as authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act, for one Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in addition to the 10 DDG-51s in the fiscal year 2013-2017 multiyear procurement contract.
Missile Defense – The bill provides $8.1 billion for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), an increase of $175 million above the President’s request. This fully funds MDA’s top priorities to modernize the Ground Based Interceptor, develop a Long Range Discrimination Radar that will be fielded in Alaska, and field the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) Phase III, which includes fielding of Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland. The bill recommends an additional $329.8 million for Israeli missile defense programs, including $150 million to begin production of the David’s Sling Weapon System, in support of the government of Israel. Further, the bill recommends an additional $97.6 million for ballistic missile defense upgrades to DDG-51 destroyers.
Missiles – The bill reflects investments in critical missile procurement programs underfunded by the Services, including recommending an additional $100 million in procurement funds for Patriot Missile Segment Enhancement (PAC-3 MSE) missiles for the Army, $141 million for Javelin missiles for the Army and Marine Corps, and $70 million to support Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles for the Marine Corps. The bill also adds $30 million for Tomahawk missiles, an investment that supports a high-demand Navy program.
National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account – The bill provides $1 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment to modernize our reserve forces and ensure full interoperability with the active duty force.
Basic Research Investments – The bill adds $220.5 million to basic (non-medical) research for the Army, Navy, Air Force and DoD.
Next Generation Rocket Engine – The bill includes an additional $143.6 million for the Air Force to continue development of a new U.S.-made engine as an alternative to the Russian-made RD-180 engine used in the Atlas V launch vehicle. This enables the Air Force to move expeditiously to a new, domestically-produced engine that would end the nation’s reliance on Russia for access to space.
Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) System – The bill adds $300 million for competitive UCLASS air vehicle development and supports continued development of these technologies on a competitive basis. Senior Navy intelligence leaders have expressed concerns that a delay to the program would risk the United States falling behind in the development of an unmanned aerial vehicle from an aircraft carrier.
Cyber Vulnerability Assessments – The bill recommends an increase of $100 million for the DoD to complete cyber vulnerability assessments of all major weapon systems.
Military Personnel and Pay – The bill funds an active duty end strength of 1,308,915 and reserve component end strength of 811,000, as authorized. It funds a 1.3 percent pay raise for military personnel, as requested by the DoD and authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act.
Troops and Families – The bill maintains a strong commitment to taking care of troops and their families and recommends an additional $11 million for behavioral health counseling; an additional $25 million for the continued implementation of the Sexual Assault Special Victims’ Counsel program across the Services; and an increase of $34 million to develop a financial education program to educate service members on best practices with regard to career transition, health benefits, retirement planning and savings, and overall financial readiness.
Defense Health – The bill provides $32.3 billion for the Defense Health Program, which provides medical services for military personnel and their families, continues advancements in medical research, modernizes and maintains medical infrastructure and develops the next generation of electronic health records. The bill also increases the DoD core medical research budget as well as congressionally-directed medical research funding by $1.2 billion, including $278.7 million for the competitively awarded peer-reviewed medical research program and $207.5 million for the Department to advance its own medical research priorities.
Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) –The amounts provided enable the DoD to meet emerging threats and support ongoing military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The bill also provides an additional $1.3 billion for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel based on the announcement that 9,800 troops will remain in Afghanistan through most of 2016.