Senate defense spending bill means big bucks for Alabama

Military troops defense

Senate lawmakers passed the FY2019 Defense Appropriations Act on Tuesday, which gives American troops a raise while strengthening the military and boosting national security, all the while providing critical funding for defense priorities throughout the state of Alabama.

The bill, which was passed by a vote of 93 – 7, provides $674.4 billion to continue rebuilding our nation’s military, an increase of $19.8 billion above the Fiscal Year 2018 level for Pentagon funding, and $178.1 billion for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies for investments in critical medical research, opioid abuse prevention and treatment, and education. This includes $39.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and increase of $2 billion, and $3.8 billion to combat the opioid crisis, and increase of $206 million.

“This is the most significant step we have taken yet,” said Alabama’s senior Senator Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense. “For the first time in a decade, we are sending a Defense spending bill to the President’s desk on time. Returning to regular order has required us all to sacrifice and work together for the good of the process.”

Shelby pointed out the defense bill also provides critical funding for defense priorities across Alabama.

“We must approve defense appropriations legislation to fund military readiness, procurement, and testing — all of which are required to keep U.S. military forces the best trained, equipped, prepared, and strongest force in the world,” Shelby added.  “This historic legislation further highlights Alabama’s strong national defense capabilities and provides our state with the opportunity to continue producing essential tools to support our men and women in uniform.  I am confident that this legislation will allow our defense programs to remain of the highest caliber.”

Following passage in the House, which is expected to vote on the legislation next week, the package will be sent to the President’s desk for his signature.

Provisions impacting Alabama

Provisions impacting the production and use of missiles and helicopters in the Wiregrass region: 

  • An additional $95 million for Future Vertical Lift research, which will help accelerate development of helicopters flown at Fort Rucker.
  • $10 million to upgrade Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopters.
  • $1.0 billion for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles.
  • $111 million for Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASMs). The measure also encourages the Navy to evaluate the capabilities and costs of a surface-launched LRASM.
  • $307 million for Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles (JAGMs).
  • $663 million for Joint Air-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSMs), which recently made its debut in strikes on Syria in response to their use of chemical weapons.
  • $484 million for Hellfire missiles, which are made in Troy and used for training at Fort Rucker.
  • $254 million for Javelin missiles for the Army and Marine Corps.

Provisions impacting North Alabama: 

  • Army Research: $11.1 billion for investments in transformational technologies to address modern and future Army war-fighting needs.
  • Missile Defense: $10.4 billion for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), including $1.1 billion to support urgent MDA unfunded priorities and emergent threats.  The measure included $191 million for Standard Missile Improvements, which are built in Decatur, and supports work done by MDA at Redstone Arsenal and many local companies.
  • Directed Energy: $184 million in additional funding to further develop directed energy technology and transition these activities to both offensive and defensive capabilities.
  • Hypersonics: $664 million in additional funding to support and accelerate offensive and defensive hypersonics research and prototyping efforts.
  • Cyber: $306 million in additional funding to expand and accelerate cyber research across the Department of Defense, including $127 million for Army cybersecurity research efforts and $116 million in Missile Defense Agency cybersecurity enhancements.  The bill encourages the enhanced use of cyber red teams to address cyber intrusions that threaten our weapons systems, an area of particular excellence for Huntsville.
  • Space: $200 million in additional funding for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) development efforts to ensure assured access to space.  United Launch Alliance (ULA), which builds rockets in Decatur, continues to be seen as the most reliable and capable space launch provider.
  • Advanced Shipbuilding Capabilities: $15 million to establish North Alabama as a center for classified, high power large-scale electron beam welding.  This technology is critical to new Navy Columbia-class submarines and many high-performance aerospace systems such as hypersonic reentry vehicles, scramjet missiles, and rocket and jet engine turbo-machinery.
  • Small Glide Munitions: An additional $15 million to integrate Small Glide Munitions onto on Unmanned Aerial Systems.  This highly successful weapon is used by Special Operations Command and built in Huntsville.

Provisions impacting Anniston:

  • $276 million for Hydra rockets, which are built in Anniston and fired from Army and Marine Corps helicopters.

Funding for Army Vehicles that are overhauled and maintained at Anniston Army Depot (ANAD):

  • $2.5 billion to continue modernizing M1 Abrams tanks;
  • $393 million for Stryker vehicles, including an additional $94 million to support increased Stryker DVH A1 conversions;
  • An additional $110 million for Paladin Integrated Management artillery vehicles; and
  • $18 million in additional funding for M88A2 Hercules Improved Recovery vehicles.

Provisions impacting Mobile’s shipbuilding industry:

  • Two additional Littoral Combat Ships (LCS).
  • One additional Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) ship.
  • An additional $700 million in Advance Procurement for LPD and LHA amphibious ships.

Watch Shelby’s remarks prior to the Senate vote: