U.S. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Mark Kirk (R-IL) announced that major portions of their bill to help increase the workload and help ensure the long-term health of Rock Island Arsenal were included in report language that is part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.
Similar to the Army Arsenal Strategic Workload Enhancement Act of 2012 introduced by the four Senators last month, the Senate Armed Services Committee's report builds on last year's bipartisan effort to authorize arsenal Centers of Industrial and Technical Excellence by directing the Secretary of Defense to create a strategic workload plan for arsenals -- including Rock Island Arsenal -- and report back to Congress no later than February 28, 2013.
"As U.S. military operations overseas wind down, it is imperative that the military maintain its capability to manufacture equipment at facilities like Rock Island Arsenal," said Harkin. "These facilities are essential to our national security and with the number of Americans they employ, important to our national economy as well. With this report language, we will ensure that the Rock Island Arsenal continues to do what it does best: manufacture the best equipment possible for our military."
"The Rock Island Arsenal has proven effective in meeting urgent wartime needs," Grassley said. "Our effort here is to get a plan put in place to make sure this sort of capability is maintained during peacetime so that it can be tapped when needed."
"The provisions included in today's report language ensure that the Rock Island Arsenal's dedicated and highly-skilled workforce is able to continue to serve this country's economic and national security interests by developing and manufacturing critical weapons, parts and materiel." Durbin said. "Not only is the Rock Island Arsenal a major employer for the Quad Cities region, it is a recognized source of some of the most sophisticated engineering and manufacturing in the entire country. I am committed to seeing that this measure is fully implemented, and I commend my colleagues for their work in this bipartisan effort to help secure the Arsenal's future."
"This measure compliments the efforts of Representatives Bobby Schilling and David Loebsack to protect the Arsenal in Rock Island," said a spokesperson for Senator Kirk. "It is essential that the Arsenal remains both a local asset to Quad Cities and a strategic defense asset to the nation. The language reflects the importance of maintaining Rock Island's critical manufacturing capability while at the same time ensures critical public-private partnerships move forward to keep the Arsenal healthy long-term."
On May 9, the Senators introduced the Army Arsenal Strategic Workload Enhancement Act of 2012 which 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 components but not for arsenals. The bipartisan bill would also promote the use of arsenals defense-wide.
The 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 Rock Island to maintain and improve its workload. Specifically, they secured -- as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012 -- 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 its expertise.
The Army Arsenal Strategic Workload Enhancement Act of 2012 is cosponsored by Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Mark L. Pryor (D-AR) and Senator Charles E. Schumer.