Veterans and Military
The cornerstone of U.S. security and the foundation for a peaceful future is a strong U.S. military. We can never take for granted the sacrifices of our servicemen and women. We must provide them with the best equipment, facilities, and support possible so they can continue to defend our freedoms. Through my position on the Appropriations Committee, I work to ensure our military is getting the support it needs to meet today’s security threats while modernizing the force for the challenges of the future.
To remain safe and secure in the future, we will need a safe, reliable, and effective nuclear deterrent and conventional forces that are as professional and technologically advanced as possible. North Dakota leads the way on both fronts, and I’m proud to advocate on behalf of our people and programs in the Senate.
- Minot Air Force Base is the only military installation in the country to host both nuclear-capable bombers (B-52s) and the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Both the B-52s and Minuteman IIIs need to be upgraded, and I strongly support making the improvements necessary for these systems to keep America safe for decades to come.
- Grand Forks Air Force Base is home to the cutting edge RQ-4 Global Hawk, the nation’s premier unmanned aircraft for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The Global Hawk represents the future of our nation’s ISR capabilities, supplanting older, less capable platforms. I continue to fight for funding so that the Air Force can complete its transition to the new Global Hawk fleet.
- The North Dakota National Guard supports U.S. missions around the world and within North Dakota. The North Dakota Air Guard flies the unmanned Predator in a variety of theaters. Both have come to the aid of North Dakotans across the state in times of disaster and emergency. I work hard with my colleagues to ensure we provide the resources the National Guard needs to execute its various missions – it provides the best value available to the taxpayer.
In December 2015, Congress passed legislation to support our military and veterans, including support for a strong nuclear triad and UAS force for the future. Highlights of the legislation include:
- Cruise missile warhead: Includes full funding to refurbish the warhead that will go on the new Air Force long range standoff (LRSO) cruise missile.
- Global Hawk – The bill continues support for the Global Hawk mission and includes language to ensure the Air Force does not retire or divest the Global Hawk fleet in Fiscal Year 2016. The measure ensures that the Air Force will continue the Global Hawk Block 40 program at Grand Forks Air Force Base.
- Nuclear Force Structure – Includes language Hoeven authored that directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to maintain U.S. nuclear forces at the levels agreed to in the New START Treaty, rather than reduce them, as the administration has proposed.
- Minuteman III Replacement – Full funding for the next generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which will replace the current Minuteman III.
- B-52 Modernization – Includes funding to modernize the B-52, including programs to improve its communications equipment and upgrade the internal bomb bay.
- UAS Research – Provides funding to support DoD research and development efforts for unmanned aerial systems (UAS). This funding helps DoD ensure its UAS aircraft will be consistent with the FAA’s efforts to integrate UAS into the national airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected the ASSURE team, led by the University of North Dakota and Mississippi State University, as the Center of Excellence for researching the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace.
- ND National Guard Intelligence Targeting Mission – The bill includes $7.3 million for a new facility to support the North Dakota Air National Guard’s Intelligence Targeting Mission at Hector Field in Fargo.
Supports UAS Integration and Research
The bill provides $17.6 million for the FAA for general UAS research and integration priorities and directs that at least $5.5 million go to the UAS Center of Excellence in coordination with the six national UAS test sites, including Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.
Supports Our Nation’s Veterans
The legislation funds Veterans Administration programs at $71.4 billion, more than has ever been appropriated to the VA. The bill makes an additional $2.5 billion in FY2016 available to improve patient access to care, and to support additional health care services including hepatitis C treatments, veterans' caregiver services, and homeless veterans’ assistance. Additionally, the bill includes a provision that requires the Department of Veteran Affairs to submit a comprehensive cost analysis of the Veterans Choice Program’s 40 mile rule criteria. The report must provide potential legislative and non-legislative solutions that offer veterans access to non-VA care when they live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility incapable of providing medical services a veteran requires.
Earlier in 2015, the Senate passed the Access to Community Care for Veterans Act, legislation cosponsored by Hoeven. This bill amends the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act (Choice Act) of 2014 to allow veterans to obtain health care services in their local community if a Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center or CBOC within 40 miles can’t provide the necessary care.