The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved $366,099,000 for military construction projects in Hawaii including $181 million to build new housing at Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield, $5 million for a C-130 rinse facility at U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point and $24 million for a waterfront operations center at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, Senator Daniel K. Akaka, U.S. Representative Mazie K. Hirono and U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa announced today.
The money is included in the Fiscal Year 2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Appropriations bills.
The committee approved both measures today by a vote of 30-0 for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and a vote of 27-3 for Homeland Security with Chairman Inouye voting in favor of each. The bills now go before the full Senate for consideration.
The Military Construction bill also includes language instructing the Department of Veterans Affairs to closely scrutinize and report on the costs associated with requiring veterans living in Alaska and Hawaii to fly to Mainland facilities to receive medical treatment.
The Homeland Security bill includes language directing the Department of Homeland Security to promulgate regulations governing the admissions and residency of migrants from Compact of Free Association states.
"Today, as America's defense posture shifts to account for the challenges in the Asia Pacific, the military's mission in this region is as important as it was when I served in the Army many years ago," said Senator Inouye. "These measures provide the funding necessary to build the infrastructure and housing we need in Hawaii to support our men and women in uniform. I will see to it that the government continues to provide whatever the military needs to perform their duties and return home safe to their families and loved ones. The construction projects included in these bills will also create much needed jobs for Hawaii's construction industry. The Committee's action on the Department of Veterans Affairs budget continues our efforts to improve care for our veterans, many of whom will be returning to Hawaii as we wind down the war in Afghanistan. Finally, I am pleased the Department of Homeland Security bill supported requests which will help keep our communities in Hawaii safe by supporting the Coast Guard's many missions and preserving Federal Emergency Management Agency grants for the state and county governments in Hawaii. I would urge my colleagues in the Senate to quickly approve these measures, " said Chairman Inouye.
"I applaud the Appropriations Committee for approving these vital construction projects needed to keep Hawaii's military facilities up to date and provide critical construction jobs in the islands. I am pleased the committee included the provision Senator Inouye and I requested directing the Department of Homeland Security to write clear guidelines for admission from Freely Associated States and help Hawaii properly care for COFA migrants by reducing the disproportionate impact on our state's budget. At my Veterans' Affairs field hearing on Oahu last month and during oversight trips to the neighbor islands, we heard about the unique hurdles Hawaii veterans face living in an island state so far from the mainland, so I am very pleased this legislation contains a provision specifically directing the VA to study the challenges facing Hawaii and Alaska veterans seeking care. I look forward to working with Senator Inouye and our colleagues to bring these provisions and projects into law," said Senator Akaka.
"Mahalo to Chairman Inouye for working to secure investments that will create jobs in Hawaii and support our service members and their families. These important projects reflect Hawaii's strategic role in the Asia Pacific region and will help our military readiness for current and future missions. I am also pleased to see this bill include a focus on improving health services to Hawaii's veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs should ensure that veterans aren't needlessly traveling thousands of miles to mainland VA hospitals when such services could be given through a local hospital minutes away. Our veterans have sacrificed so much in service to our nation, and they deserve convenient access to health services. I hope to see the House maintain and build on the great work started by Chairman Inouye and his Senate colleagues," said Congresswoman Hirono.
"I would like to say mahalo to Chairman Inouye and the Senate Appropriations Committee for their continuing support for our men and women in uniform, and their recognition of the vital role Hawaii will play in the twenty-first century," said Congresswoman Hanabusa, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. "As our nation shifts our defense focus to the Asia-Pacific theatre, this funding will help us improve the infrastructure at our island installations to support the needs of our regional forces, while creating important jobs for our local economy. I will continue to do all I can to ensure that the safety and security of our nation remains a top priority."
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill
All of the projects that received funding in Hawaii were requested in the FY 2013 President's Budget.
POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA
Automated Infantry Platoon Battle Course - $29 million
Barracks - $41 million
Barracks - $55 million
WHEELER ARMY AIR FIELD
Combat Aviation Brigade Barracks - $85 million
Army National Guard
Army Aviation Support Facility Ph1 - $28 million
Aircraft Staging Area - $14.68 million
MV-22 Hangar and Infrastructure - $82.63 million
Air National Guard
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM
TFI - F-22 Combat Apron Addition - $6.5 million
Special Operations Command
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM
SOF SDVT-1 Waterfront Operations Facility - $24.289 million
HAWAII Total: - $366.099 million
Department of Veterans Affairs
Report Language regarding access to care for veterans in Hawaii and Alaska who are often directed to fly thousands of miles to a VA hospital within the continental U.S., regardless of whether adequate healthcare may exist within the State through a local provider. The Committee encourages the VA to continue its effort in addressing the unique problems through the "Care Closer to Home Program" and directs the VA to report to the Committee the numbers and costs associated with veterans in Hawaii and Alaska directed to travel to the mainland for medical care; the number of veterans that actually traveled; and the Department's plans and goals for reducing the number directed to travel to another state. It is also directed to describe the criteria used to determine whether to purchase care in their respective states or to travel elsewhere, a description of the medical conditions for which these veterans were required to travel out of Hawaii and Alaska; and an explanation for why care was not purchased in state.
The [military construction bill] also includes funds, as requested, to execute the Department of Veterans Affairs plans for the Advance Leeward Outpatient Healthcare Access (ALOHA) Lease of a Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs primary care outpatient facility in the Ewa Plain, once Congress approves of the authorizing legislation.
Homeland Security Appropriations bill:
Includes the following language on the Compact of Freely Associated States:
Pursuant to the Compact of Free Association Act of 1985 (Public Law 99-239), and continued under the Compact of Free Association Amendments Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-188), citizens of the Freely Associated States [FAS] are accorded the privilege of traveling and residing in the U.S. without a limit. Although the Compact and accompanying statutes clearly state, "it is not the intent of the Congress to cause any adverse consequences for an affected jurisdiction," pressing medical and social needs of FAS migrants are imposing considerable economic costs on a small number of jurisdictions within the United States.
The Department is directed to promulgate regulations governing admission and residency of FAS migrants. The Department shall also continue its work within the National Security Council Inter-agency Policy Committee on Freely Associated State Affairs to implement its action plan to reduce the impact of FAS migration on Federal, State, local, and territorial governments, particularly those in affected jurisdictions."
U.S. Coast Guard - fully funds the President's request to construct a $5 million C-130J rinse rack facility at Barber's Point.