The House Appropriations Committee today approved a $251 billion fiscal year 2021 military construction, veterans affairs, and related agencies bill on a vote of 30 to 20.
U.S. Rep. Ed Case’s office said the measure, which now goes to the full House for final approval, includes his requests for more than $300 million for major construction projects at military installations in Hawaii.
Case’s requests to direct completion of a new veterans Leeward outpatient facility and provide adequate parking at Tripler Army Medical Center, possibly with a new parking garage, also were included.
“These military projects address critical facility and quality of life issues which are so important to the well-being of our service members and their families and to Hawaii’s role in our national defense,” Case, a Hawaii Democrat, said in a release. “Equally important, as our visitor industry takes years to recover, we must rely especially on the other two legs of our local economy – federal/defense spending and construction – to keep generating good jobs and maintain the best economic foundation possible.”
Case serves on the House Committee on Appropriations, which is responsible for allocating federal funds to government agencies, departments and organizations.
In total, the bill provides $250.9 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding, an increase of $15.2 billion above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level and $2.3 billion above the president’s budget request.
Case’s office said the bill provides funding for five major military construction projects in Hawaii, including two new child development centers at $97 million, an aircraft maintenance hangar at Wheeler Army Airfield at $89 million, and two wharf improvement projects at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam at $115 million.
The bill directs Veterans Affairs to commence and complete the already-approved and funded but delayed Advanced Leeward Outpatient Healthcare Access (ALOHA) Project, a 66,000-square-foot leased medical facility “critical to veterans on Oahu,” according to Case.
In a report on the bill, the committee recognized the strategic and critical role the Hawaii Infrastructure Readiness Initiative plays in the Defense Department’s strategic plans for the Indo-Pacific region.
U.S. Army Pacific created the initiative to address “critical priorities” established in military construction and major restoration and maintenance programming requests.
According to the Army’s analysis, 45 percent of the infrastructure in Hawaii is failed or failing, “putting efforts to meet operational needs at risk,” the appropriations bill states.
The readiness initiative allocates between $50 million and $150 million per year through fiscal year 2030 to address major infrastructure needs, with a 10-year cost of $1.1 billion.
The program addresses major facility and infrastructure deficiencies, including aviation maintenance facilities, operations facilities, tactical equipment maintenance facilities, Pohakuloa Training Area, West Loch Ammunition Storage, and base operations.
“Continued and consistent funding is needed at a time of growing national security needs in the Pacific,” the bill states.