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Wicker, Hyde-Smith vote for Defense Spending bill

Photo by News Mississippi

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith have voted to pass a bill that gives the Defense Department its largest funding increase in 15 years which Hyde-Smith says is a key step in supporting President Trump’s Commitment to rebuilding America’s military.

The Senate on Thursday approved the FY2019 Defense Appropriations Bill, which also funds the largest military pay raise—2.6 percent—in nearly a decade.  As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hyde-Smith worked to secure funding and support for national defense activities conducted in Mississippi.

“Our servicemen and woman need to know that Congress has their back by making resources available to modernize, train, and equip them so they can continue to protect vital U.S. security interests.  This bill does that,” Hyde-Smith said. “The bill will also continue to support the national defense activities carried out in Mississippi, including research, development, and both ship and aircraft manufacturing.  This work supports U.S. military force structure and readiness needs.”

The bill provides additional funding for high-priority U.S. Navy shipbuilding requirements, which will influence shipbuilding in Mississippi.  Aerospace manufacturers will also participate in fulfilling military aircraft procurement requirements for UH-72 Lakota Light Utility Helicopters and long endurance unmanned aerial vehicles.

“One of the two appropriations bills passed today will continue to rebuild our military, including the building of more ships,” said Wicker. “The other will fund important programs at home including apprenticeship training, community health centers, Alzheimer’s research, and efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. I am proud that under Republican leadership we are reasserting Congress’s power of the purse to fund our national priorities in a responsible way. We are now on track to finalize these bills with the House in September, which would prevent the need for an omnibus bill.”

The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg will utilize funding in the Senate bill for the Army’s high performance computing modernization program and other research initiatives.  Research universities in Mississippi will also benefit from the Senate bill’s focus on basic research carried out at U.S. universities to develop “transformational technologies.”

Shipbuilding – $2.3 billion in additional funding for high priority shipbuilding and industrial base programs for the U.S. Navy.

  • LPD amphibious ship – $500 million to fund the advance procurement of the LPD Flight II amphibious transport dock.
  • LHA-9 amphibious assault ship – $350 million for construction of the LHA 9 amphibious assault ship.
  • Arleigh Burke Class DDG-51 Destroyer – $5.81 billion to support DDG-51 Destroyer construction, including $250 million in advance procurement to purchase an additional DDG-51 in 2020.
  • Advanced Components for Shipbuilding Programs – $15 million to develop the Navy’s Advanced Materials Propeller program in support of requirements of the Future Submarine Force.

Aircraft Procurement – $42.2 billion overall for the procurement of military aircraft, including high priority programs across the services.

  • UH-72 Lakota Light Utility Helicopter – $10 million above the budget request to upgrade the UH-72 Lakota Light Utility Helicopter, which is built in Columbus.
  • Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – $15 million to enable the Air Force to continue development of long endurance platforms to meet urgent operational demands from Combatant Commanders.  This project will also involve work done in Columbus.

Research – $2.8 billion overall for basic, nonmedical research for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Department of Defense.

  • High-Performance Computing Modernization Program– $218 million, a $35 million increase, for the Army’s high-performance computing modernization program. These funds are critical for the viability of ERDC and also directly affects the Mississippi State University (MSU) high-performance computing program.
  • Army Research Activities – $69 million to support Army research at ERDC involving multiple projects such as polymer development (University of Southern Mississippi), advanced 3D printing technology, and next-generation unmanned systems research (MSU).
  • Combat Vehicle Weight Reduction Initiative– $10 million to support improved design materials and configuration of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) to achieve weight reduction.  This initiative involves MSU.

National Guard Counter-Drug Schools – $30 million for the National Guard Counterdrug Schools. This is a very important initiative for the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy at Naval Air Station Meridian.

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