The Defense Department Appropriations bill contains significant investments for our service members, veterans and their families, as well as investments for MacDill Air Force Base and the work to develop the next generation of refueling tankers, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor said today. The bill is slated for a House vote this afternoon.
The Defense Department Appropriations bill includes $1.8 billion to develop the KC-46A refueling tankers. The KC-46A will replace the Eisenhower-era KC-135 tankers. These new tankers will be assigned to a few bases across the country. Castor is working with other members of the Tampa Bay Congressional Delegation, as well as local elected and business leaders, to champion MacDill as an ideal spot for this new fleet. The effort is called "MacDill Means Mobility."
"Tampa is a tanker town," Castor said. "Bringing these new tankers to MacDill would expand economic opportunities and create jobs in our region, while securing MacDill's vitality for years to come."
The legislation also includes $7.6 billion for Special Operations forces, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
"Special Operations forces brought Osama bin Laden to justice," Castor said. "SOCOM has grown in importance throughout the last decade as the critical missions involving al-Qaida and other terrorist threats have become paramount to our national security. America's Special Forces will receive significant new investments under the bill as our country shifts emphasis to modern defense tactics to address unconventional threats to our national security."
The Defense Appropriations bill also includes several provisions to support our troops and their families, including a 1.7 percent pay raise for all service members and a $34 billion investment in health care initiatives for troops, their families and retirees.
"Investing in our military personnel will go a long way toward improving the quality of life for our active duty troops, reservists and their families," Castor said. "They deserve no less."
Castor also worked with Rep. Bill Young, chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, on this bill to make sure military families -- especially those with special-needs children -- and veterans receive all of the health services they are entitled to. Castor and Young will team up with the Department of Defense to ensure information about health care options for children, including information on Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, is easily available. One out of nine military children covered by Medicaid has special health care needs.