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Enyart praises advance of bill protecting Scott AFB’s interests

WASHINGTON – A defense spending bill advanced by a House committee this week offers protections for two major southern Illinois interests, including Scott Air Force Base, U.S. Congressman Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, said today.

Enyart hailed the successful passage of H.R. 4435, the defense spending bill from the House Armed Services Committee. The bill will now move to the House floor.

Enyart highlighted two victories for the 12th Congressional District: the retention of Apache helicopters for the Illinois National Guard, and the decision not to convene the Base Realignment And Closure Commission in 2017.

“As the former Adjutant General of Illinois, I am pleased to announce a big military win for Southern Illinois,” said Enyart. “The bill will allow for the Guard to keep their Apaches, and Scott Air Force Base will continue to be a vital military asset for the nation and an economic hub for region.”

“It’s a good day for the Guard,” said Enyart. “The Wilson-Enyart Amendment ensures the Army will follow and pursue the Total Force Policy, allowing the Guard to continue to mirror the active Army in a critical combat capability – attack aviation. This amendment focused specifically on the Apaches while allowing the Army to proceed with its restructuring initiative.”

Enyart and Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., offered the bipartisan amendment, which will accomplish four key objectives: maintains end-strength for the Guard at 350,000; prohibits Apache transfers for FY 2015; calls for a GAO report due in March 2015, to allow the committee to consider objective information for the FY 2016 defense spending bill; and provides an additional $363 million for National Guard combat training rotations, depot maintenance, and procurement and modifications to the UH-60s.

Earlier in the week, Enyart announced a second amendment for consideration that would have provided funding for additional Growlers and KC-46 tankers as requested by the Navy and Air Force respectively. Although the amendment was not offered during the hearing, Enyart fought for the inclusion of 5 Growlers to Chairman Buck McKeon’s (R-Calif.) mark up, and praised the chairman for his decision to include them.

“The Growler is a vital component of our Navy. It is the only full spectrum airborne electronic attack capability our nation has,” said Enyart. “That’s why I fought to ensure we could secure additional Growlers in the chairman’s mark up.” The Growler is made at the Boeing St. Louis plant and employs over 800 residents of the 12th District of Illinois. Enyart is working with members of Defense Appropriations, to include additional Growler funding in the upcoming appropriations bill.

Enyart spoke out about several additional amendments brought forth during the hearing yesterday, including:

His opposition to reduce funding by $10 million for the Defense Information Systems Agency located at Scott Air Force Base. With Enyart’s opposition, the amendment was defeated.

His support for changing the authority that handles sexual assault cases in the military. Enyart’s support of the adopted amendment drew an emotional response from fellow Illinois House member Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8). Watch here.

His support for the A-10 aircraft, offering full funding for the operation and maintenance of the fleet. Enyart’s support provided for successful adoption of the amendment, continuing this vital aircraft’s presence in the Air Force.

His support for the full bill – authorizing $496 billion in discretionary Department of Defense spending, and an additional $79.4 billion for war operations spending.

In addition, Enyart offered language that was accepted by the Majority that serves as a first step for General Dynamics, located in Marion, to make 25mm ammunition for the Joint Strike Fighter. “General Dynamics provides good paying jobs to the people of Southern Illinois and is a key component to our military industrial base,” said Enyart. “We are working to make sure they continue to make ammunition that our military needs with a particular interest in the ammunition that will be used for the new Joint Strike Fighter.”

The House Armed Services Committee defense spending bill hearing lasted over 12 hours Wednesday, wrapping up a little after midnight, Eastern Time. The committee’s defense spending bill was approved unanimously, with a 61-0 vote at 12:16 a.m. EST. The bill now moves to the House floor and is expected to be brought up for a vote the week of May 19.

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