U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation that would help increase the workload and help ensure the long-term health of Rock Island Arsenal. The Army Arsenal Strategic Workload Enhancement Act of 2012 would require the Army to create a strategic plan to increase workload and ensures arsenals around the nation are considered for military contracts Defense-wide rather than just within the Army.
"Rock Island's highly-skilled workforce has a proven track record. For more than ten years now, they have made critical weapons, parts and materiel to our men and women on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Very often, they've produced items in a crisis, when no one else can do it. And they've made it affordable," said Durbin. "It is in the best interest of our military and our nation to open up competition and help the Rock Island Arsenal increase its workload. I thank my colleagues for their work on this bipartisan bill which will help secure the Arsenal's future."
"This legislation builds on last year's successful effort by the Illinois and Iowa delegations to expand Public-Private partnerships at Rock Island Arsenal to ensure it remains a vibrant part of the Quad Cities," said a spokesperson for Senator Kirk. "Opening the nation's arsenals to the entire Department of Defense and requiring the Army to provide sufficient workload will help preserve a national security asset and keep the Rock Island Arsenal's skilled workforce ready to support our security needs."
"The Rock Island Arsenal provides an essential capability to respond rapidly to urgent wartime needs so the American warfighter gets the equipment necessary to complete the mission and come home safely. The production at Rock Island of armored doors for Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan is a good example of that," Grassley said. "However, it is essential to have a plan in place to ensure that this capability is kept ready and viable during peacetime so it will be available the next time it is needed. Our legislation will accomplish just that."
"Time and time again, Rock Island's talented workforce has proven its ability. This effort is about ensuring the workforce has the opportunity to stay competitive and continue to thrive for years to come," said Harkin. "The changes proposed in this legislation are a win-win, both for our nation's military and for Rock Island Arsenal."
The Army Arsenal Strategic Workload Enhancement Act of 2012 would require the Army to create a strategic plan to ensure arsenals, including Rock Island, receive the workload they need to keep workers' skills sharp. The Army does this type of systematic planning for some of its subdivisions but not arsenals. The bipartisan bill would also promote the use of arsenals, defense-wide. Currently, arsenals are primarily utilized for Army contracts a division that doesn't make sense in a modern military.
Today's bill builds upon a bipartisan effort last year by the Illinois and Iowa Congressional Delegations to expand the Arsenal's ability to enter into public-private partnerships which are necessary for the Rock Island Arsenal to maintain and improve their workload. Specifically, they secured -- as part of the National Defense Authorization Act -- an unlimited number of public-private partnerships for the Arsenal and the opportunity for the Arsenal to be designated as a Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence which will permit the Army to automatically assign work to Rock Island based on their expertise.
Additional Senators signing on to today's legislation include: Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Mark L. Pryor (D-AR) and Senator Charles E. Schumer.