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National Defense Authorization Act leaves committee, includes Fort Drum provisions

pThe National Defense Authorization Act, the bill that authorizes spending for the entire military, has passed the House Armed Services Committee 33-24 after an all-night markup session./ppU.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, announced on Thursday that the NDAA markup includes a number of specific provisions that will benefit Fort Drum. /pp“This year’s NDAA includes numerous crucial initiatives for the North Country that I was proud to fight for and secure for our community,” Ms. Stefanik was quoted as saying. “Several of my initiatives for Fort Drum, military readiness, and East Coast Missile Defense were included that are absolutely critical to our national security and our community.”/ppMs. Stefanik broke with some of her colleagues in voting to advance the bill from the committee to the House Floor, including Republican Ranking Member William Thornberry./ppAmong the provisions included is authorization to improve the Fort Drum railhead and add an unmanned aerial vehicle hanger./ppThe railhead funding was not included in the requested appropriation by the Army for next year, but has been included in early versions of both the Senate and House NDAA. The $21 million improvement project would double the capacity of the railhead for loading and unloading. The railhead was first identified as lacking capacity in 2008. /ppThe $23 million UAV project includes the hangar, maintenance, airfield pavement and other requirements./ppAccording to the press release from Ms. Stefanik’s office the bill also refers to Fort Drum as a model system for integrating civilian and military healthcare. It also requests a report on the feasibility of making all military installations 100 percent energy resilient by 2030. /ppFort Drum receives its electricity from the ReEnergy biomass plant, which was given a 20 year contract in 2014. Then a year ago the Army announced it wanted to end the agreement. Last month the company offered a counterproposal, and negotiations are ongoing./ppThe bill sent to the House floor also requires the Secretary of Defense to designate an East Coast Missile Defense site for potential future deployment no later than January 31 of 2020. Fort Drum is one of three possible sites; Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center in Ohio and Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan are also under consideration./ppMs. Stefanik has been a consistent advocate of bringing the East Coast Missile Defense Site to Fort Drum and said she would include legislation in the NDAA to force the announcement if the Department of Defense did not announce it on its own./ppThe markup also includes some changes that will impact all service members, including a 3.1 percent pay raise. It also includes a tenant bill of rights for military housing and calls for an analysis on mold exposure and mitigation. Mold in military housing has been an issue nationally, including in Fort Drum’s on-post housing. /ppThis is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information is available./p


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