Jul 17 2014
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman today applauded the committee passage of the Defense Appropriations Bill, which provides critical funding for our nation’s troops and national security priorities. The bill passed the Appropriations Committee unanimously and will now head to the full Senate for passage.
“The Administration is making reckless decisions without considering consequences to the security of our nation or dedication of our men and women in uniform. Arkansas has a long tradition of military service, and we need to ensure that our servicemembers have the equipment and resources necessary to continue to answer the call of duty. That’s why I’ve worked hand-in-hand with Senator Boozman on this bill to secure a strong future for our troops, military installations, and first responders,” Pryor said.
“This bill is vital to our national security. It ensures our servicemen and women have everything they need to complete their missions safely and successfully. I am pleased that the committee backed our provisions to modernize the fleet used by the Arkansas National Guard Wing, protect the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from unwarranted cuts and prevent DoD from hastily shutting down ROTC programs that put young Arkansans on the path to becoming great Army officers,” Boozman said. “Additionally, this will help protect rural Arkansans from overbearing, foolish EPA regulations that seek to halt DoD transfers of excess equipment to rural fire departments. In many cases, this is the only way rural fire departments can afford the equipment necessary to keep communities safe. There is no justification for discontinuing the program.”
Pryor and Boozman are members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which allowed them to include the following provisions in the bill:
- Keeping Arkansas Communities Safe: Earlier this month, due to Environmental Protection Agency regulations, the DoD halted the transfer of surplus military equipment that is often purchased by Arkansas rural fire departments. Due to an outpouring of concern from local communities, DoD reversed course. Pryor and Boozman’s provision would permanently prohibit the DoD from halting the sale or lease of excess firefighter equipment to ensure that first responders have the equipment necessary to keep Arkansas communities safe.
- Supporting the C-130H Avionics Modernization Program at the LRAFB: Pryor and Boozman’s measure would allow the Air Force to modernize the C-130H fleet with a low-cost alternative solution. This would allow military installations—including the Arkansas National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing, the Air Force Reserve’s 913th Airlift Wing and the 19th Airlift Wing at the Little Rock Air Force Base—to upgrade their fleets with important avionics and communication technology required for global operations quickly and more efficiently while saving taxpayer dollars.
- Protecting the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team: In order to protect the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) in Little Rock from any potential cuts, Pryor and Boozman’s measure would prohibit the divestiture of any Army National Guard Brigade Combat Team until recommendations are made by the National Commission on the Future of the Army. The 39th IBCT is the largest unit in the Arkansas National Guard. In the last 10 years, the entire brigade deployed twice to Iraq, supported the border mission in Operation Jump Start, and was the first military unit to respond to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Parts of the brigade have also deployed to Afghanistan and responded to state disasters.
- Preventing the Closure of ROTC Programs in Arkansas: In the bill is a measure, authored by Pryor and Boozman, that would prevent the DoD from closing or downgrading any ROTC Program in FY2015, including Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Last year, Pryor and Boozman successfully fought back the Army’s proposal to close A-State’s ROTC Program. The Army is now taking into account investments schools have made in their programs, like A-State’s ROTC dormitory, when making these decisions.