Last week, Congressman John Rutherford voted for H.R. 3219, the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, which provides funding in Fiscal Year 2018 for the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Energy. It also provides funds for water infrastructure initiatives and the construction of much needed fencing, levees and secondary barriers along vulnerable portions of our southern border.
With regard to the legislation, Congressman John Rutherford said, “With this critical legislation, we continue to deliver on the promise to Northeast Floridians to make America stronger and safer. We increase funding for our national defense to grow our fighting force, give our troops a much-deserved pay raise, and invest in the tools they need to combat threats to the U.S. and our allies around the world. The leaders at NAS Jacksonville, NS Mayport, and other critical military installations in our community tell me that we must remain committed to improving readiness, and this bill represents a significant investment to do just that. The House continues to do important work to fulfill our obligations to the American people, and I urge the Senate to join us in making our nation more safe and secure.”
Department of Defense: The bill includes a total of $658.1 billion for the DOD, including key programs that are vital to both Northeast Florida and our entire military. The bill fully funds a 2.4% pay increase for uniform service members, 11 Navy ships including 3 Littoral Combat Ships, 24 F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft, 7 P-8A Poseidon aircraft, and 2 DDG-51 guided missile destroyers. Due to the increasing global threats and requests from our military leaders, the bill also increases the end strength of our armed forces. Additionally, it makes strategic investments with our allies across the world in battling instability and terrorism. After years of budget instability, passing this legislation is a crucial step in restoring the readiness and investment that our military requires and deserves.
Veterans Affairs: Congress continues the important work to modernize and improve the VA to ensure that veterans receive the care they deserve, and this bill reflects those priorities. The bill provide $182.3 billion for the VA in both discretionary and mandatory funding. These funds are urgently needed to address issues of suicide prevention, claims processing, battling the opioid epidemic, homelessness prevention, and vital medical research.
Energy and Water: The Army Corps of Engineers is funded at $6.16 billion, an increase of $120 million above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $1.16 billion above the President’s budget request. The Corps is instructed to prioritize funding for beach renourishment projects in areas like Northeast Florida that need it for flood and storm damage reduction and shore protection. Further, the bill authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretary of the Army to withdraw the Waters of the United States rule, commonly referred to as “WOTUS,” which could expand onerous and expensive federal permitting requirements for local municipalities and agriculture, if implemented.
Homeland Security: Provides $1.6 billion dedicated to infrastructure for securing our southern border and enforcing our nation’s immigration laws.