The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved its annual Department of Defense appropriations bill, which included key provisions sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La. The bill, which provides $511.2 billion in base level defense funding and the President's $93.3 billion request for Overseas Contingency Operations, includes Sen. Landrieu's priorities that support research and development efforts throughout Louisiana.
Sen. Landrieu has been working with the top officials at the Air Force and the National Guard Bureau to stave off cuts to the A10s stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base and the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron stationed outside of Alexandria. Overall, this bill includes $800 million to help ensure that both installations continue to operate at current levels.
"I have worked closely with Chairman Inouye to ensure that the 259th Air National Guard squadron in Alexandria and the A10s stationed at Barksdale have enough funding to continue their critical missions for the next year. I will continue to press Air Force leadership to understand the key roles our airmen play throughout Louisiana," Sen. Landrieu said.
Additionally, Sen. Landrieu secured an additional $5 million for the STARBASE Program - a science and engineering educational opportunity for 5th grade students located on military installations throughout Louisiana. Sen. Landrieu also led the effort to include $125 million for the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, a $5-million increase from the president's budget. The Youth ChalleNGe Program seeks to mentor and support high school dropouts and provide them with new educational and employment opportunities. Louisiana has three of the most prominent programs in the country, graduating nearly 1,400 cadets each year. They are located at Camp Minden, Camp Beauregard and Carville.
"Our country continues to have a critical need for experts in fields like engineering and science. The goal of the STARBASE program is to spark an interest in science in our students early on - and encourage them to pursue a career in these fields later in life," Sen. Landrieu said. "In addition, Louisiana is home to three of the nation's top ranked Youth ChalleNGe Programs. The funds appropriated today will allow for high school students to build on the success they achieve during the in-residence portion of our programs."
Also during the appropriations process, Sen. Landrieu pushed for $1.71 billion for Army Aircraft Procurement, which will allow for the continued purchase of UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters that are critically needed in the war in Afghanistan. She also continued her focus on several other core priorities, including the need for Army Diminished Vision research; improvements to defense support to civil authorities during emergencies and events of national significance; and increased cost savings through the use of initiatives like the Minority Leaders Program for sensor and materials research and development needs across the services.