WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, today offered two amendments to the FY 2015 $521 billion defense spending bill – H.R. 4435 – released by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif.
Enyart said the amendments are vital to national defense priorities by maintaining active readiness through strategic training and preparation. Additionally, the amendments will provide for local job creation and economic vitality in Southern Illinois.
Enyart and Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., jointly offered an amendment supporting the National Guard’s efforts to remain an operational reserve force. The Wilson/Enyart Amendment would accomplish three key objectives:
· Freeze end strength for the Active Army and Guard at 490,000 and 350,000 respectively. In addition, it would prohibit Apache transfers for all of FY 2015. The original bill, H.R. 3930, would have frozen transfer of all aircraft from the National Guard to the Army.
· Call for a GAO report due at the beginning of March 2015, in time for the committee to consider objective information for the FY 2016 NDAA. This provision substitutes for a commission that wouldn’t make a report until the beginning of 2016 as originally proposed.
· Provide an additional $363 million for National Guard Combat Training rotations, depot maintenance, and procurement and modifications to the UH-60s. This would be paid for by reducing resources for the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination & Decommissioning Fund from Department of Energy.
“I am troubled that under the Army’s Aviation Restructuring Initiative the ARNG (Army National Guard) would no longer possess Apaches for a number of reasons,” said Enyart. “First, I view this transfer as a shift away from the Total Force Policy. The ARNG will no longer mirror the active Army in a critical combat capability: attack aviation. Our amendment focuses specifically on the Apaches while allowing the Army to proceed with its restructuring initiative.”
Enyart’s second amendment would provide funding for vital programs and assets in the Air Force and Navy. He offered it jointly with Rep. Rick Larsen. D-Wash.
Enyart said the amendment would:
– Provide funding for five additional EA-18G Growlers bringing the total number of Growlers funded in the FY 2015 NDAA to 10 ($470,900,000)
– Restore full funding for the KC-46 Tanker program ($226,100,000)
– Provide additional funding for the E-2D Advance Hawkeye aircraft ($146,000,000)
– Increase Advance Procurement for the Littoral Class Ship (LCS) program by $100,049,000
The Growler is the nation’s only full spectrum airborne electronic attack capability and is deployable from both joint force land bases and the Navy’s aircraft carriers. It increases operational mission effectiveness more than any component of the carrier wing now and in the future. The Growler is made at the Boeing St. Louis plant and employs more than 800 residents of the 12th District of Illinois.
Additionally, air refueling capabilities are aging rapidly,
“Our country’s ability to project power across the globe is highly dependent on our air refueling capability powered by the KC-135,” Enyart said. “While getting the job done, these aging platforms, in some instances, are over 50 years old and the need for a new tanker is urgent. The KC-46 tanker program represents the future of the refueling and airlift capability of the Air Force.”
Both of the amendments offered by Enyart were to be presented during the House Armed Services Committee budget hearing.