Washington, D.C., November 2, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.), a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, yesterday joined her colleagues in passing the Senate’s appropriations bills for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies; and Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.
This legislation – which passed 82-15 – would directly appropriate more than $500 million for critical Alabama priorities and contains conservative wins, including banning future mask mandates and preventing American taxpayer money from ending up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
“I was proud to support these major victories for Alabama’s military installations, veterans, family farmers, and local communities. Through the most robust, transparent committee and floor amendment processes that we’ve seen in years, this commonsense legislation would make key investments in our national defense, support our servicemen and women, and grow 21st century opportunity across Alabama,” Senator Britt said. “Instead of going to New York or California, more of Alabamians’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars would be coming home because of the wins we were able to secure in this legislation. Strategic, targeted investments like these ultimately strengthen our state’s future and ensure that Alabama will continue to be a sweet home for our children and our children’s children. In the days and weeks ahead, I will continue to fight to restore regular order and pass accountable, prudent appropriations bills so that the American people are not saddled with yet another omnibus at the end of the year.”
On the Senate floor, Senator Britt voted to support the successful amendment authored by Senator J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), which would ensure that the U.S. Department of Transportation cannot implement or enforce any type of mask mandate on airplanes, railroads, buses, and public transit. Senator Britt is a co-sponsor of Senator Vance’s Freedom to Breathe Act earlier this year, which would implement a similar ban.
Senator Britt also supported the successful amendment by Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), which would prohibit any funding appropriated by the legislation from going to entities or corporations controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
The legislation would appropriate nearly $434 million for Alabama’s military installations and mandate a new accountability requirement for the U.S. Air Force in light of the Administration’s politicized Space Command Headquarters decision. Alabama projects funded by the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies bill include the following:
Fort Novosel ($68.2 million):
- Army Radar Approach Control – $7 million
- Construct an Army Radar Approach Control Facility (ARAC) to support Army Aviation training mission.
2. Hazardous Materials Storage Facility – $3.85 million
- Construct a new Hazardous Materials Warehouse (HMW) and Hazardous Waste Warehouse.
3. MEDEVAC Ready Building – $6.1 million
- Construct a Ready Building to support 24-hour operations for an on-call Air Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) crew at Cairns Army Airfield.
4. Barracks Complex – $41.2 million
- Funding will finish construction of a barracks complex for soldiers at Fort Novosel.
5. Aircraft Parts Storage Facility – $4.95 million
- Funding will finish construction on a facility to house aircraft parts.
6. Vehicle Maintenance Storage Facility – $5.1 million
- Funding will finish construction on a facility to store vehicles.
Maxwell Air Force Base ($13.9 million):
- Construct Air Command and Staff College – $5.1 million
- Construction of one-story addition and two-story addition to Air University’s Air Command & Staff College (ACSC).
2. Replace (construct) Gunter Fitness Center – $8.8 million
- Construct a facility to ensure the fitness and readiness of service members.
Redstone Arsenal ($25.3 million):
- Airport Runway Extension (overruns) – $5.5 million
- Construct an overrun on the north and south end of runway to support Redstone Arsenal Airfield’s multiple DOD and DOJ missions.
2. Airfield Fire and Rescue Station – $5.6 million
- To provide a three company Airfield Fire and Rescue Station.
3. Access Control Building – $4 million
- To build a new access control building to support Redstone Arsenal.
4. Natural Gas Expansion and Meter Station – $4.8 million
- Build and update the gas meter stations on Redstone.
5. Test Area 7 Relocation – $ 5.4 million
- Funds to relocate Test Area 7 on Redstone.
The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies bill also includes nearly $326 million in additional Alabama priorities supported by Senator Britt. These include $65 million for the military housing privatization initiative at Maxwell Air Force Bases Air Education and Training Command, $7 million for the F-35 Ops Building for the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field in Montgomery, $50 million for a substation power project at Redstone Arsenal, $57 million for Army Reserve Center in Birmingham, and $147.975 million for ground test facility infrastructure on Redstone Arsenal.
In addition, Senator Britt secured language that would require the Secretary of the Air Force to provide a report within 90 days of the bill’s enactment detailing all funds that have been spent or obligated towards the construction, renovation, and improvement of facilities for Space Command Headquarters.
The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies bill includes nearly $40 million secured by Senator Britt to modernize and upgrade transportation infrastructure in local communities across Alabama. These investments in key Alabama priorities include improvements to roads in rural communities, regional airports, and inland port infrastructure, that would improve safety while also empowering economic development and creating jobs in local communities.
Senator Britt also supported funding in the bill that would set aside $20 million for the National Scenic Byways program and $350 million for the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS), which includes the Birmingham Northern Beltline. Alabama has the most uncompleted miles remaining of any state in the system and is projected to get approximately $30 million of the total ADHS appropriation.
Finally, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill consisted of numerous Alabama agriculture priorities supported by Senator Britt, including robust funding to both combat Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and continue the National Feral Swine Damage Management program, in addition to looking to develop new strategies to address this threat.
Senator Britt successfully amended the bill on the floor to appropriate funding for research into how peanut farmers in Alabama and around the country can best combat the drought conditions currently impacting their crops.
Senator Britt also worked across party lines with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) to include an amendment in the bill that would provide funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a streamlined and uniform process for the tracking and disclosures of all foreign investment in American farmland.
Additionally, the bill would provide substantial federal resources for rural utilities and rural development programs under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which support infrastructure improvements and economic development in rural communities.
Having successfully passed the Senate floor, the bill is now expected to move to a conference committee.