Senate approves Arizona military priorities in annual defense bill

Business News | 13 Dec, 2020 |

Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema secured multiple Arizona military priorities in this year’s annual defense bill, which passed the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support. Funding for critical projects at Luke Air Force Base, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Fort Huachuca, Yuma Proving Ground, and the Arizona National Guard—along with Sinema’s provisions increasing child care funding and enhancing telehealth services—are included in the NDAA. The legislation heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“Arizona’s servicemembers put their lives on the line to keep us safe and secure, and I am committed to ensuring they get the support and resources needed do their jobs and maintain Arizona’s leadership in America’s national security,” said Sinema.

Here’s a closer look at how Arizona military institutions fared in the annual defense bill:

Luke Air Force Base

Funding for F-35s at Luke Air Force Base

• Sinema secured $5.3 billion for 60 F-35s for the Air Force, ensuring an additional squadron of F-35s for Luke Air Force Base. The F-35s are the next generation of strike fighters and provide increased aero-performance, stealth signature and countermeasures.

“The West Valley Defense Alliance is incredibly thankful for Senator Sinema’s continued advocacy for Arizona’s defense industry and military assets, like Luke Air Force Base. With her support, the Senate authorized $5.3 billion for 60 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to build a 5th Squadron at Luke. Her input on the NDAA will have a lasting positive impact on Arizona’s military installations and defense industry, and the WVDA deeply appreciates her tireless commitment to ensuring our warfighters have the equipment and resources necessary to keep our nation safe,” said Lynndy Smith, Chair, West Valley Defense Alliance.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base  

Prohibits the Retirement of the A-10 Program at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

• Sinema secured continued support for the A–10 Thunderbolt II program at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, prohibiting the retirement of A-10 airplanes in 2021.

Secures State-of-the-Art COMPASS CALL Aircraft for Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

• Sinema secured $170 million for procurement of the Compass Call aircraft. The Compass Call capability is the Air Force’s premier wide-area coverage Airborne Electronic Attack Offensive Counter Information weapon system.

Fort Huachuca

Funding to Protect Land for Fort Huachuca 

• Sinema secured $100 million for the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program, allowing the Department of Defense to partner with conservation trusts to acquire land. The land will be used to protect Fort Huachuca from commercial or residential encroachment that could undermine training or the use of the airspace.

Funding for the Defense Information Systems Agency Laboratory Building at Fort Huachuca

• Sinema secured $33.7 million for military construction on the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Laboratory Building at Fort Huachuca. The DISA Lab Building will consolidate Joint Interoperability Test Command (JTIC) operations, which are currently located in temporary trailers, into a modern facility at Fort Huachuca. JITC testbed facility will provide global testing capabilities, which extends to the entire spectrum of DoD, Federal government, private industry, and allies in support of commands and control, intelligence and defense reform initiative.

Funding for Tactical Electronic Warfare Systems

• Sinema secured $28 million for Tactical Electronic Warfare Systems used at Fort Huachuca. The resources secured will help Army units conduct advanced intelligence collection and electronic warfare.

Yuma-Area Military Installations

Secured Funding for Yuma Proving Ground’s Free Fall School Ready Building

• Sinema secured $14 million for military construction of a “Ready Building” the Military Free Fall School at Yuma Proving Ground.

Secured Funding for the Special Operations Forces Hangar at Yuma Proving Ground

• Sinema secured $49.5 million for military construction of a Special Operations Forces Hangar at Yuma Proving Ground

Secured Funding for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at MCAS Yuma

• Sinema secured $1.1 billion for 10 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft used by servicemembers at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. MCAS Yuma is currently waiting for the arrival of a fifth squadron of F-35’s.

Arizona Air National Guard

Secured Camp Navajo Land Conveyance

• Sinema secured the authorization of a 3,000 acre land conveyance at Camp Navajo.

Funding for the Tucson National Guard Readiness Center

• Sinema secured $18.1 million in military construction for a Tucson National Guard Readiness Center. The construction of a 86,759 square foot National Guard Readiness Center will support training, administrative, and logistical requirements for the Arizona Air National Guard. This facility will be built on state land and designed to meet mission requirements for the 222nd Transportation Company.

Secured Continued Support for KC-135 Tankers for the 161st Refueling Wing

• Sinema secured continued support for the KC-135 tanker aircraft until FY23. The KC-135 Stratotanker is a proven and crucial airframe for aerial refueling used by the Arizona National Guard’s 161st Air Refueling Wing located at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Their mission is important to support training at Luke AFB, DM AFB, MCAS Yuma, and other units across the Southwestern United States.

Arizona’s Military and Veteran Community

3 Percent Pay Raise for Arizona Servicemembers 

Focus on Increasing the Capacity and Quality of Childcare in the Military

• Sinema fought for language to improve childcare for servicemembers and their families. The bill includes her amendment to increase funding for construction of Child Development Centers on military installations, as well as provisions to bring down the cost of childcare for servicemembers, increase the number of options available to families and improve hiring authorities at Child Development Centers.

Increase Coverage of Agent Orange Exposure for Vietnam Veterans

• Sinema ensured Parkinsonism, bladder cancer, and hypothyrodism were added to the diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. 

Funding for safe and secure aircraft

• Sinema secured $850 million for Crashworthy, Ballistically Tolerant Fuel Systems, ensuring Arizona servicemembers’ aircrafts are safe and secure.

• Sinema secured $792 million for the remanufacture of the AH-64E, which is the most up-to-date model of the Army’s “Apache” attack helicopter.

VA Mission Telehealth Clarification Act

• Sinema secured inclusion of her VA Mission Telehealth Clarification Act. Sinema’s bipartisan bill allows Department of Veterans Affairs health trainees to train on and utilize the VA telehealth system. During the coronavirus pandemic, many non-emergency medical services are now being conducted via telehealth. Increasing access to telehealth for Arizona veterans will reduce the spread of the coronavirus and help save lives.

Newborn of Veterans Health Care  

• Sinema secured a provision allowing the VA to provide health care services to newborns of women veterans beyond 7 days and transportation to newborns to receive that care. Currently, VA is only authorized to provide up to 7 days.

Childcare Unfunded Priorities Report 

• Sinema included an amendment to modify the authority of the Service Secretaries to request additional funding for military construction projects related to child development centers on military installations.

Keeping Arizona Secure

Combatting Terrorism and Cartel Financing

• Sinema helped secure major reforms that crack down on the shell corporations that terrorist organizations, drug cartels, and other criminal syndicates use to conceal illicit activity and hide assets. The provision requires companies to disclose beneficial ownership information to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and it is a result of successful bipartisan, bicameral negotiations for which Sinema advocated. The bill’s language draws from the ILLICIT CASH Act, Sinema-backed bipartisan legislation requiring disclosure of beneficial ownership information to FinCEN.

• Sinema’s FinCEN Improvement Act, which reforms and enhances FinCEN’s duties to help crack down on illicit financing, is also included in the bipartisan defense bill. The bipartisan FinCEN Improvement Act directs the agency to work with tribal law enforcement agencies, protect against terrorist threats domestically or internationally, and ensures a focus on emerging financial technologies and virtual currencies.

Cybersecurity Advisory Committee Authorization Act

• Sinema secured inclusion of her Cybersecurity Advisory Committee Authorization Act. Sinema’s legislation establishes an advisory committee of no more than 35 professionals from across a range of industries to provide the Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency guidance on cybersecurity policy. 

Cybersecurity State Coordinator Act

• Sinema secured inclusion of her bipartisan bill that establishes a cybersecurity state coordinator in Arizona to prepare, manage, and respond to cybersecurity threats.

CHIPS for America Act

• Sinema secured the inclusion of significant portions of her bipartisan Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act. This provision will restore American leadership in semiconductor manufacturing by establishing Federal grants to enable advanced research and development, securing the supply chain, and ensuring long-term national security and economic competitiveness.

Border Security

• Sinema secured the inclusion of language she helped develop to improve our nation’s ability to limit the flow of drugs and illegal goods into our nation through our land ports of entry. This language requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to create a plan to improve the use of large-scale non-intrusive inspection systems to eventually scan 100 percent of the traffic coming into the United States.

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