Today the House will pass the 2001 Defense Authorization bill, which includes several key prioritizes for Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith.
“The defense bill makes key investments in quality of life measures for our armed services and invests in the leap-ahead technology we need to continue having the best military in the world,” Smith said.
The bill authorizes $309.9 billion for defense and national security in 2001. Highlights include:
- Improves heath care coverage for military personnel by extending “TRICARE Prime Remote” coverage for family members who live far from military treatment facilities and thus are not covered under the current system.
- Phases in permanent chiropractic care for active duty military personnel over a period of five years.
- Restores pharmacy access to all Medicare-eligible military retirees.
Quality of Life and Retirement
- Provides a 3.7 percent military pay raise (effective January 1, 2001).
- Reduces out-of-pocket housing costs for military personnel to less than 15 percent.
- Provides a targeted subsistence benefit of up to $500 per month to assist military personnel who are most in need of assistance — primarily those living on food stamps.
- Includes authority for a thrift savings retirement plan for military personnel.
- Authorizes $35 million for the Impact Aid program, which provides supplemental money to school districts across the country that support almost 550,000 military children.
- Authorizes $1.4 billion for DOD Dependent schools.
- Provides $8.4 billion for military construction – $400 million more than the President’s budget request. Importantly, more than $253 million of this increase is dedicated to quality of life improvements.
Large scale projects
- The F-22, which is partially produced in Tukwila, received $1.4 billion in funding for research and development, $2.1 billion for ten low-rate initial production (LRIP) aircraft and $396.1 million for advance procurement of 16 LRIP aircraft in FY02.
- The Joint Strike Fighter, another Boeing project, received a total of $856.6 million for the Air Force and Navy Joint Strike Fighters.
- The President’s budget request included just $148.6 million for the Airborne Laser (ABL) program, which is a highly accurate laser carried in a modified Boeing 747-400F freighter aircraft. This represented a cut of $92.4 million. Adam worked hard to successfully restore $82.4 million of these funds. The ABL will be capable of operating at altitudes above the clouds, track hostile missiles and — at the boost phase of flight — fire the laser and destroy the missile over the launch area.
Distance Learning Initiative
Smith worked to add $4 million for web-based distance learning courseware development – these funds will support an important pilot program at Camp Murray. Adam has long been a supporter of distance learning and of employing cutting edge technology to make military practices more efficient and cost-effective.
Washington State has been selected by the Department of Defense (DOD) as a regional Civil Support Team (CST). As such, the National Guard is charged with supporting first responders such law enforcement and medical personnel in the event of any WMD occurrence through the entire Region X area. Accordingly, the training that the Camp Murray pilot is providing is critical National Guardsmen and women as well as to the safety of citizens in the Region X area.
Smith secured $1.281 million for planning and design of the Combined Support and Maintenance Shop project at Fort Lewis. This center will provide service and maintenance to weapons, communications equipment and other military items. The facility will also provide the authorized maintenance work bays, functional and administrative space to support equipment readiness requirements. The current facility was constructed in 1951 to support 1940’s equipment and cannot accommodate modern equipment.
McChord Air Force Base
Smith worked to provide a total of $10.25 million for McChord Air Force Base. These funds will be used for the alteration of Nose Docks for C-17 aircraft ($3.75 million) and for a C-17 Squadron Operations/Aircraft Maintenance Unit ($6.5 million).
The President’s budget contained no funding the C-40A, which the Boeing Company is the primary contractor. Smith worked hard in support of this program and helped secure $54 million for one C-40A for the Naval Reserve. This aircraft is a commercial-derivative airlift aircraft used to transport high priority cargo and passengers. It will replace the Navy’s 27 year old fleet of C-9’s. The Chief of Navel Operations considered this among his top unfunded requirements.
The President’s budget contained no money for reengining KC-135E’s, which provide aerial refueling capabilities for other important aircraft. In order to leverage the Air Force’s investment in these aircraft, Smith worked to secure $52 million for two reengining kits. Reengined KC-135’s are capable of shorter take-offs, offloading more fuel, operating at higher gross weights and satisfying or exceeding all noise and pollution standards.
Supply Asset Tracking System (SATS)
Smith worked to secure $27.1 million — an increase of $12 million over FY00 levels — for SATS, an important system that fits with Smith’s desire to leverage new technology to streamline DOD practices. Through the use of commercial automated information technology, SATS empowers Air Force staff to quickly and accurately identify and locate personnel, equipment and supplies. This system enhances productivity, shortens inventory cycles, and allows real-time inventory updates. These funds will allow for continued installation of SATS in Air Force bases throughout the world.