U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has pressed for passage of legislation that would complete the FY2017 appropriations process and benefit national defense and other federal activities in Mississippi.
The FY2017 omnibus appropriations legislation is a package of 11 regular appropriations bills for FY2017, as well as additional funding sought by the Trump administration for national defense and border security. The Senate will consider the bill, which conforms to the statutory budget caps, after the House of Representatives. Congress has until May 5 to pass the measure.
“This legislation provides necessary resources for our national security and to meet other priorities for the American people. The bill is the product of bipartisan negotiations within Congress and with the new administration. It merits our support,” Cochran said.
For Mississippi the bill would provide greater certainty of funding for projects and programs than the short-term spending measures used to sustain federal government operations over last seven months.
“Mississippi’s important contributions to the security of our nation would be supported by this agreement,” Cochran said. “The legislation would also maintain programs that promote commerce and growth in Mississippi.”
The agreement would fund Defense Department procurement, operations and maintenance funding, as well as more Overseas Contingency Operations funding to accelerate the campaign to defeat ISIS and support ongoing operations in Afghanistan.
The measure also makes the largest investment in border security in almost a decade, including funding sought by the President for immigration enforcement and for additional technology, infrastructure, and enhanced support for personnel to secure the Southwest border.
Throughout the omnibus measure, funding for more than 150 programs or initiatives has been terminated, rescinded or consolidated. The bill and accompanying statement include provisions to restrict bureaucratic excess and reduce waste, fraud and abuse.
The following are a few of the provision within the FY2017 appropriations bill of interest to Mississippi:
Shipbuilding – $21.2 billion for Navy shipbuilding programs, an increase of $2.8 billion, to fund construction of 10 new ships, three more than the last Obama budget request. Among these new vessels are three DDG-51 destroyers, one LHA amphibious assault ship, and one LPD amphibious transport dock. The bill also has $150 million to buy long-lead time material for the first Polar Icebreaker Recapitalization ship, which is currently scheduled for award in FY2019.
- The bill provides $10.45 billion for the U.S. Coast Guard, $344 million above the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget request. The bill sustains the Coast Guard acquisition schedule for a new cutter fleet, including post-delivery activities for the ninth National Security Cutter (NSC), long-lead-time materials for the tenth NSC, and other vessel and aircraft procurement.
- The agreement provides $75 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to construct a new Ocean Survey Vessel to conduct research in the Gulf of Mexico. This is in addition to the $80 million provided in the FY2016 Omnibus. The contract for ship construction will be openly competed, giving Mississippi shipyards an opportunity to build the vessel.
Aircraft Procurement – The agreement funds several unrequested Defense Department requirements through the procurement of multiple air frames, including $187 million not not requested in FY2017 for the procurement of 28 Lakota LUH aircraft, built in Columbus.
- In addition, the bill provides $114 million, $41 million above the budget request, to procure five MQ-8 Fire Scout aircraft, and $444 million for three MQ-4 Triton aircraft, $35 million above the budget request. The Northrop Grumman Unmanned System Center in Moss Point completes final assembly of the Fire Scout and Triton.
Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) – $18 million in DHS funding for sUAS Research and Testing. This funding will support DHS missions, including border security, maritime security, and counter-UAS operations. These activities will take place in Mississippi, which was recently designated as the DHS’s sUAS demonstration test range.
- The bill also provides $10 million in U.S. Department of Transportation funding for the FAA Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence, which is run by a Mississippi State University-led consortium.
High Performance Computing Modernization Program – $222 million, $45 million above the budget request, for the Army high performance computing modernization program. These funds are critical for the Vicksburg-based U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and would directly impact the Mississippi State University high performance computing program.
- The bill also provides $22 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for research and development conducted at ERDC, $5.2 million above the budget request.
Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) – $152 million for ARC to continue promoting business development, education, and job training in 13 states from Northeast Mississippi to western New York. This funding includes $16 million for industrial site and workforce development in Southern and South Central Appalachia focused primarily on the automotive supplier and aviation sectors.
Delta Regional Authority (DRA) – $25 million, $9 million above the budget request, for DRA to continue promoting economic and community development in the Mississippi Delta region. Within the overall amount, not less than $10 million is for basic public infrastructure work.
Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi River and Tributaries Project (MR&T) – $362 million, $140 million above the budget request and $23 million above FY2016 enacted level, for MR&T water resource projects in the lower Mississippi River Valley from Cape Girardeau, Mo., to the Gulf of Mexico. Notably the bill provides:
- $95 million increase for flood control works that were unfunded or underfunded in the budget request;
- $41 million increase for the Corps of Engineers to use at its discretion to advance ongoing Civil Works projects, including water supply, ground water protection, waterfowl management, educational facilities and other activities;
- $4 million increase for port and harbor dredging along the Mississippi River.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program – $333.4 million is included, a $12.5 million increase over the FY2016 level, for the NIH IDeA program, which supports biomedical research in states that are historically underutilized for NIH research. Mississippi is among 23 states currently eligible for IDeA grant awards.
- $1.39 billion, a $400 million increase, for Alzheimer’s disease research at the NIH National Institute on Aging. The MIND Center at University of Mississippi Medical Center is a leader in Alzheimer’s research.
Corporation for National and Community Service – $30 million for the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), level with FY2016 funding. The NCCC maintains a campus in Vicksburg. In addition, $386 million is provided for AmeriCorps State and National Grants, the same as FY2016 funding.