Hoeven: Appropriations Committee Approves Defense Legislation

Bill Includes Priorities for North Dakota and the Nation

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed the National Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2016, which includes important provisions to benefit North Dakota and bolster the nation’s defense.

“North Dakota plays a remarkably important role in the nation’s defenses, so we worked to ensure that the new legislation supports the nuclear missions at Minot Air Force Base, the Global Hawk missions at Grand Forks and other North Dakota priorities,” said Hoeven. “The bill provides our military with the resources and tools it needs to protect and defend our country.”

Hoeven worked to ensure the legislation included priorities for North Dakota and the nation:

Global Hawk

  • Retained the Global Hawk – Hoeven worked to ensure that Global Hawk‎ operations are fully funded for next year and inserted language to make sure the Air Force retains the Global Hawk even if the Air Force continues to operate under budget sequestration. The measure ensures that the Air Force will continue the Global Hawk Block 40 program at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Nuclear Forces

  • Nuclear Force Structure – The committee included 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.
  • Nuclear Force Improvement Program – The committee included more than $130 million requested by the Air Force for the Nuclear Force Improvement Program and directs the Air Force to report on how this investment is improving the nuclear enterprise. 
  • Minuteman III Replacement – The committee fully funded the Air Force request of $75 million to begin development of the next generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which will replace the current Minuteman III.
  • B-52 Modernization – The committee included $145 million, in line with the Air Force request, to modernize the B-52, including programs to improve its communications equipment and upgrade the internal bomb bay.

Other Provisions

  • UAS Research – The committee included a total of $7.8 million 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. Last month, 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.
  • Base Security – The committee included a requirement for DoD to evaluate the costs of the systems it uses to control entry to military bases and evaluate whether it can achieve significant cost savings with technology developed in the private sector.
  • Medical Research – The committee included $50 million in support of promising medical research programs that will provide significant benefits to military personnel.