LoBiondo Applauds House Passage of “Make America Secure Again” Appropriations Funding for Defense & Veterans Programs

Jul 28, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) applauded House passage of four appropriations bills (Defense-Military Construction/VA-Energy & Water-Legislative Branch) dubbed “Make America Secure Again” Appropriations bill, which included a number of his priorities. The consolidated appropriations package, which also includes a 2.4 percent pay raise for military personnel, passed the House last night 235 to 192, sending it to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

“President Trump was right to point to the degradation in our military readiness when he called on Congress to change course. Increases to federal funding for defense and veterans programs is absolutely appropriate and necessary, if we are going to respond to the current needs and threats our nation faces,” said LoBiondo, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. “The legislation also strengthens South Jersey’s national security efforts and vital community programs, from suicide prevention outreach services for our veterans to research into next generation of AESA radars for the 177th Fighter Wing. I applaud inclusion of my priorities and the bipartisan passage of this bill.”

The Defense Department will receive $658.1 billion while the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will receive $78.3 billion, its highest funding level to date.

During floor debate this week, LoBiondo offered two amendments which were approved unanimously:

  • Increase of $10 million for the purposes of carrying out an e-Loran demonstration, a GPS backup technology with a transmitter stationed in Wildwood; and,
  • Increase of $2 million (for a total of $7 million) to the Wounded Warrior Service Dog Grant Program that addresses physical and mental health needs of service members and veterans with assistance from service dogs. In its three years of existence, the Department of Defense-run program has allowed non-profit organizations to train and pair over 250 highly sophisticated service dogs with veterans in need.

Also included in the legislation was nearly $41 million for the research and development of the next generation of the active electronically scanned array radar (AESA) systems. LoBiondo had previously secured language in the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that authorized the AESA radar upgrades, which will be installed at eight (8) F-16 jets at the 177th Air National Guard Fighter Wing in Egg Harbor Township. The new radar system helps to better detect the evolving threat picture, identify new potential threats that current technology cannot, and allow greater capabilities to the Air National Guard F-16 fleet for national security efforts. Aircraft that perform the Aerospace Control Alert (ACA) mission are receiving the upgrades.

Additional provisions in the legislation that would benefit South Jersey include:

  • Increase to $30 million for the Department of Defense’s Impact Aid program Impact Aid is a program that provides critical funding to school districts near military bases, such as the United States Coast Guard Training Center Cape May. This program is important to local communities with a significant number of military families living within, as it provides necessary support for schools that do not receive supplemental funding from local property taxes; and,
  • Increase of $13 million (for a total of $186 million) for veteran suicide prevention outreach efforts.