Senate Passes Transportation, HUD Funding Bill: Includes Hoeven Provisions for Williston Airport, ND UAS Research

Also Includes Provision in MilCon/VA to Improve Access to Health Care Services for Women Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John Hoeven, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Senate has passed the $56.5 billion Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act (THUD). The legislation also includes funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Within this funding, support is prioritized for programs that make transportation systems safer, more efficient and more reliable, which will benefit air, rail and highway infrastructure across North Dakota.

“The THUD bill makes necessary investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure, including the need to accommodate for growth in places like western North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “Expanding and relocating facilities like Williston’s Sloulin Field International Airport is a long-term investment in regional infrastructure and economies that should pay dividends for decades to come. At the same time, the VA section of the bill includes legislation that improves health care services for our men and women veterans in rural areas.”

Specifically, the new THUD legislation includes the following Hoeven provisions:

• Williston Airport: Of benefit to North Dakota, the legislation includes a provision that Hoeven authored to help existing airports, like Williston’s Sloulin Field International, that are in critical need of expansion and relocation due to their essential economic impact on their surrounding communities; however, they are unable to grow their current facilities because of various physical constraints. The measure directs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure sufficient funding is available to relocate these airports in a timely manner.
• Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Research: The bill provides $18.4 million for UAS research, of which $10 million is provided for the FAA’s Center of Excellence on UAS (COE), which is led by the University of North Dakota (UND) and Mississippi State University. The bill directs the FAA and the COE to use the UAS test sites when conducting their research, including research into unmanned traffic management systems in coordination with NASA, UAS data link security and counter UAS technologies.

? Additional Important Provisions in the THUD Bill Important to North Dakota include:

• Airport Improvement Program (AIP): Funding is critical for capital improvement programs at airports ongoing in North Dakota, including Williston Airport.
• Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): Provides states and communities with funding that can be used for a wide range of community development programs. Funding has been critical for flood recovery efforts in Minot and Fargo.

? The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (Milcon/VA) Bill Includes a Hoeven Provision to Improve Health Care Access for Women Veterans

The MilCon/VA appropriations bill, which was combined with THUD, funds the VA and includes the following Hoeven provision:

• Female Veterans: Includes a provision encouraging the VA to consider a mobile health-care pilot program to provide gender specific services, awareness of benefits, and outreach to women vets using mobile healthcare infrastructure. This model is designed to fill the gap in VA gender-specific services as the agency works to expand infrastructure and hire the needed staff for specialty care.
• Choice Program: Includes a provision that directs the VA to carry out a survey of VA and private sector medical providers to assess the experiences of providers using the Choice Program, particularly in rural areas.