Hoeven: Senate Passes Funding Legislation to Support North Dakota’s Missions, Strengthen Veterans’ Health Care & Advance Comprehensive Flood Protection

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after the Senate passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill and the Energy and Water appropriations bill. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to ensure the legislative package includes important funding and provisions to support the state’s military missions and veterans, while also advancing comprehensive flood protection.

“We’ve worked hard in the Appropriations Committee to ensure this legislation advances our state and nation’s priorities,” Hoeven said. “Among other things, this legislation funds the construction of new and upgraded facilities for our servicemembers in Minot and Fargo, while also supporting the modernization of the warheads used on our ICBMs and nuclear cruise missiles. It also continues our work to strengthen veterans’ access to local health care, including long-term care facilities. On top of this, the bill helps advance our continued efforts to deliver comprehensive flood protection for our communities, including in the Red River Valley and the Minot region.”

Supporting North Dakota’s Missions

  • $655 million to extend the life of the W80 warhead, which flies on the air launched cruise missile (ALCM) based at Minot Air Force Base and will transfer to the long range stand off (LRSO) missile scheduled to replace the ALCM.
  • $53 million to refurbish the W78 warheads that fly on the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and will transfer to the replacement missile following the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program.
  • $66 million for a new helicopter facility at the Minot Air Force Base. The existing facilities are aging and will not accommodate new helicopters that will replace the Hueys currently deployed at the base.
  • $32 million for a Readiness Center in Fargo to house, support and train elements of three Army National Guard units – the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, the 191st Military Police Company and the 112th Aviation Regiment.
  • Directs the Air Force’s Global Strike Command to report on the need to recapitalize the Missile Alert Facilities, ensuring the infrastructure is modernized alongside the GBSD program to replace the Minuteman III.

Strengthening Veterans’ Health Care

  • Includes Hoeven-sponsored measures to help provide veterans with better access to health and long-term care services closer to home. 
    • Advances the VA’s efforts to enter into provider agreements with non-VA long-term care providers, in lieu of the current burdensome federal contracting requirements.
    • Stresses the importance of prompt payment and ensuring timely reimbursement for non-VA providers and directs the VA to facilitate the completion of any outstanding claims for payment.
    • $270 million for the Office of Rural Health, which is responsible for increasing access to care and services for veterans in rural areas.
    • Increases funding for veteran mental health services and veteran suicide prevention programs, including $40 million for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) research.
    • $400 million for veteran opioid abuse prevention and treatment programs. 
    • $861 million to support veteran caregivers through training, educational resources and other tools.  
    • Provides strong funding for homeless veterans’ assistance programs, including the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program.

Advancing Comprehensive Flood Protection

  • Provides a $76 million increase for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction projects. This increase empowers the Corps to support more of its priorities, including comprehensive flood protection for the Fargo Moorhead region.  
  • Builds on Hoeven’s legislation to extend the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) by directing the Corps to complete a detailed plan for implementing WIFIA and provides $1 million to support WIFIA program development and implementation.
  • Helps ensure fair treatment of projects that use alternative financing methods during the Corps’ cost-benefit analysis, like the public-private partnership (P3) used for flood protection in the Fargo-Moorhead region.
  • Provides $75 million for water infrastructure improvements in small and rural communities, which has supported sewer upgrades for communities like LaMourePetersburg and Medina.
  • Prioritizes repairs of recreation sites on Corps’ land along the Missouri River.
  • Continues reforms to accelerate the Corps’ section 404 and 408 reviews that experienced significant delays in prior years. Last year, Hoeven secured similar language in the bill to expedite processing of Section 408 packages that affected several North Dakota projects, including those in Minot and Cass County.