U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today welcomed the Senate passage of H.R. 2055, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (VA) and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012. This annual legislation provides $142 billion in total funding that includes $581 million for medical and prosthetic research and a $594 million increase in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans' healthcare.
The measure which passed 97-2, also includes Inhofe sponsored language that is important for schools located on military installations. It requires the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress, no later than 90 days after enactment, on the status and improvement plan for all Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools with an overall condition rating of Q3 (poor) and Q4 (failing) as identified in the October 2009 Report to Congress on Department of Defense Education Activity's Military Construction Program. That report found that 76 of the 189 schools assessed, or 40 percent, had facilities that were "failing" and should be considered for replacement. Another 73, or 39 percent, were assessed as "under-maintained."
"Time and time again, our nation's soldiers and veterans have answered the call of duty, and for this we are forever indebted to their courageous service," said Inhofe. "It is our duty to support our nation's soldiers and veterans. H.R. 2055 ensures that our men and women in uniform receive the resources necessary to protect our nation as well as providing improved healthcare, including the treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury, for our nation's veterans.
Inhofe continued, "Over 86,000 children attend Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools across the United States, Europe, and the Pacific region. Unfortunately, many of these schools are in urgent need of repair. The language included in this bill requires the Secretary of Defense to provide Congress the status of all DoDEA schools and an improvement plan for schools with an overall poor or failing condition. This is particularly important to Geronimo Road and Sheridan Road Elementary at Ft. Sill. I will continue to work with the Army and the Defense Department to address the education needs on all our military installations."
"This legislation also prohibits funding to construct, renovate, or expand any facility in the United States to house terrorists currently detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO). Having championed this language, I am pleased that Congress continues to prevent federal funds to be used to transfer or detain GITMO detainees in the United States. We must continue to keep GITMO open and actively gather intelligence."
Inhofe expressed disappointment that the bill contains restrictions on funds, pending reports to Congress, for constructing a permanent United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) Headquarters outside of the United States. While there are no immediate plans to move AFRICOM from Germany, the most effective and cost efficient future location for an AFRICOM Headquarters is on the continent of Africa and not in the United States. He also was disappointed with restrictions on military construction funding at Grafenwohr and Baumholder, military installations in Germany. The military projects there were for family housing, barracks, a chapel and live fire range training. The projects are not connected to any decision to withdraw forces from Germany and will directly impact our forces and their families.
President's Budget Items included for Oklahoma:
Ø $25 million for a Physical Fitness Facility at Fort Sill, OK
Ø $13.2 million for a Chapel at Fort Sill, OK
Ø $36 million for a Reception Station, Phase 1 at Fort Sill, OK
Ø $3.4 million for a Rail Deployment Facility at Fort Sill, OK
Ø $51 million for a Vehicle Maintenance Facility at Fort Sill, OK
Ø $23 million for a Battle Command Training Center at Fort Sill, OK
Ø $33 million for a THAAD Instruction Facility at Fort Sill, OK
Ø $6.3 million for Railroad Tracks at McAlester, OK
Ø $1.7 million for Ammunition Loading Pads at McAlester, OK
Ø $8.2 million for Replace Fuel Transfer Pipeline at Altus AFB, OK
Ø $10.4 million for Upgrade-Combined Arms Collective Training Facility at Camp Gruber, OK
Ø $3.0 million for a Live Fire Shoot House at Camp Gruber, OK