Senate Gives Final Okay on FY2019 Defense Appropriations Bill with Mississippi-related Funding

U.S. Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today voted to complete Senate action on a defense appropriations bill that includes significant funding increases to continue rebuilding America’s military might, while also giving the largest pay raise for U.S. troops in nearly a decade.

They voted for the FY2019 Defense Appropriations Bill as part of a two-bill appropriations package that also includes provisions to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.  It passed on a 93-7 vote.  Hyde-Smith worked to include funding to support defense work done in Mississippi.

“Mississippi is home to a significant level of national defense work, such as shipbuilding, aircraft manufacturing, and critical research.  I’ve worked to see that those programs are supported as part of the President’s rebuilding goal,” Hyde-Smith said.

Overall, the bill increased defense funding by an additional $19.8 billion above the FY2018 level to make significant investments in training, maintenance, and modernization to restore near-term warfighting readiness.  Defense activities in Mississippi should benefit from additional funding provided for high-priority shipbuilding, aircraft manufacturing, and missile defense.

“This bill upholds our responsibility to defend our country and the American people,” Hyde-Smith said.  “The Senate vote for this bill gives President Trump the ability to sign a bill that makes an additional $19.8 billion available to continue rebuilding our military might.”

Senators also worked to include additional funding for the Army’s high performance computing modernization program, which will benefit the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg and other research initiatives.

“With Republican leadership in Congress and in the White House, we are now funding our national priorities in a responsible way and ahead of schedule,” Wicker said. “The Defense funding bill would advance our national security, build more ships, give our troops a pay raise, and expand Junior ROTC programs in rural areas. We also are working to meet the needs of the American people through strategic investments in education, apprenticeship opportunities, medical research, and rural health care.”

The appropriations package (HR.6157) requires approval from the House of Representatives before it can be sent to President Trump for his consideration.  In addition to including the FY2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill, this package includes a continuing resolution to fund the federal agencies, which have yet to receive FY2019 appropriations funding, through Dec. 7, 2018.

The following are FY2019 Defense Appropriations Bill highlights for Mississippi:

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

  • LPD amphibious ship – $350 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 – $5.89 billion to support DDG-51 Destroyer construction, including an additional $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, and $5 million for Lightweight Composite Research.

Aircraft Procurement – $43 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.  Additionally, $34 million will be used to procure an additional four aircraft.
  • Ultra-Long 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, Development, Test and Evaluation – A $6.9 million increase for research, development, test and evaluation accounts 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 affect the Mississippi State University (MSU) high performance computing program.
  • Army Research Activities – $74 million above the budget request to support Army research at ERDC involving multiple projects such as polymer development with the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), advanced 3D printing technology, and next generation unmanned systems research with 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.
  • Navy Research Activities – $72 million above the budget request to support Navy research involving multiple projects such as Ocean Warfighting Environmental Applied Research and Advanced Additive Technologies for Sustainment of Navy Assets. This work involves USM.

National Guard Counter-Drug Schools – $25 million for the National Guard Counterdrug Schools. This is a very important initiative for the Regional Counterdrug Training Academy at Naval Air Station Meridian.