A critical bill containing language championed by Senator Mark Begich to reject Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in Fiscal Year 2014 without first reducing costs and closing bases overseas cleared a major legislative hurdle yesterday as the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed legislation to provide appropriations for military construction and family housing and the Department of Veterans Affairs for Fiscal Year 2014.
"This action was a key hurdle for these bills recognizing Alaska's critical strategic military role. I fought hard against ill-conceived BRAC's that have been threatening Alaska's bases and am glad the committee rejected BRAC's without closing bases overseas first," said Sen. Begich. "Alaska is a proud military state. I won't back down on fighting for our vets and to strengthen our national security by ensuring Alaska's key military role when this bill comes before the full Senate."
With urging from Sen. Begich, the Committee rejected the Department of Defense's request for a BRAC round in 2015 which Sen. Begich has strongly opposed. Earlier this year, he introduced a Senate Resolution rejecting the 2015 BRAC. Several provisions Sen. Begich requested were also added in including language to address the Department of Veterans Affairs claims backlog and expand access to health care for rural veterans.
Sen. Begich was also successful in inserting language to prohibit any funds for being used to decommission the Heat and Power Plant at Clear Air Force Station until the Government Accountability Office reviews the data used by the Air Force to determine it should be decommissioned.
Sen. Begich also worked with his colleagues to include measures to increase efficiency and taxpayer savings by cutting funding for unnecessary military construction overseas and putting in place measures to prevent funds from being spent on lavish conferences.
Alaska Military Construction totaling $202.204 million (~$180 million more than FY 2013) in the bill includes:
Aviation Battalion Complex $45M
Aviation Storage Hanger $58M
Clear Air Force Station
Upgrade Radar $17.204M
Missile Field 1 Mechanical Engineering Building $82M
The bill is now pending before the full U.S. Senate for consideration.