WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.), today announced the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs 2008 spending bill (H.R.2642) provides more than $963 million for projects at Maryland’s military facilities, including $698.6 million in Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) projects. The legislation, which passed the Senate today, contains provisions for military installations nationwide, with federal funding totaling $21.55 billion to support new construction costs.
“I told Maryland’s military leaders I would fight for this funding. My promises made are promises kept,” said Senator Mikulski. “A stronger America begins at home. That’s why every year, I fight to make sure our military has the tools they need to keep us safe. I will keep up my work to make sure Maryland communities have what they need in the federal checkbook to implement the BRAC recommendations.”
“I am proud that this bill contains the resources necessary to provide Maryland’s installations and communities with the resources needed to implement the BRAC recommendations, care for our veterans, and improve the quality of life for military families,” said Senator Cardin. “This legislation is critical to our current and future military mission.”
The spending bill provides $287.1 million for Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Harford County, including:
— $141 million in BRAC funding for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) facilities.
— $104 million in BRAC funding for C4ISR facilities to support the Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate.
— $27 million in BRAC funding for the Medical Research Lab for Chem-Bio Defense.
— $2.9 million in BRAC funding for the Army Research Lab.
The spending bill also includes $12.2 million that was not included in President Bush’s budget for APG to build an Automotive Technology Evaluation Facility (ATEF). The ATEF will provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with the capability to support sustained high-speed testing for both wheeled and tracked vehicles, as well as complement and enhance automotive test infrastructure already in place at the Aberdeen Test Center. Due to the continuing threat of rocket propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices, vehicle convoys in Iraq are operating at the maximum obtainable speeds in order to counter these threats. Sustained speeds exceeding 65 mph are now very common in the theater of operation. However, existing test courses were not designed to accommodate vehicles capable of reaching these speeds, much less sustain these speeds without braking or reversing direction. The ATEF will be a tri-oval, 4.5-mile engineered test track with paved and gravel road surfaces and
stringent safety stand off and grading criteria to enable full-range tracked and wheeled vehicle automotive testing. There are currently no test tracks in the DoD inventory or in the private sector with this full-spectrum capability.
An additional $385 million in BRAC funding is also included in the bill for Fort Lee, Va., to construct the new Ordnance School, which must move from APG to accommodate incoming C4ISR facilities.
The bill also includes $87.5 billion for critical Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs, a significant $4 billion more than the President requested and the largest increase for veterans’ health care in the 77 years of the department’s existence.
In the next step of the legislative process, the House and Senate will meet in Conference Committee to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill. The Conference report will then be voted on by both Houses of Congress. Once passed by the House and Senate, the bill will go to the President for his signature. Senator Mikulski is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senator Cardin is a member of the Budget Committee.