Alexander: Appropriations Committee Approves Pay Raise for Tennessee Service Members, $900 Million for National Guard Equipment

Posted on May 26, 2016

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2016 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said funding bills for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security will give pay raises to all U.S. service members and provide $900 million to buy equipment for the National Guard. Alexander voted to approve the bills which were considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee today.

“These appropriations bills fund some of the federal government’s most crucial responsibilities – supporting our troops, protecting our national interests abroad, and keeping our borders secure. Governing is about setting priorities, and both of these bills are consistent with the spending limits Congress set in the Budget Control Act and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015,” Alexander said.

“The Defense Appropriations Bill provides a total of $574.5 billion for our national defense, including pay raises for the men and women who defend our freedoms – including those serving at Fort Campbell and Naval Support Activity Mid-South. And the bill will provide $900 million to help the National Guard and Reserves get the equipment they need to carry out their missions. Every year, the president zeroes out the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account, and every year Congress puts the funding back in, because we know the Guard is no longer a ‘ready reserve.’ It’s a truly operational fighting force that’s an essential part of our military.”

“The Homeland Security Appropriations Bill provides a total of $48.07 billion to help protect our nation’s borders, including $11 billion for 45,145 agents and officers with Customs and Border Patrol. At a time when the world has grown more dangerous, this funding is needed to help maintain border fencing and strengthen border surveillance,” Alexander said.

The Homeland Security Appropriations Bill also provides funding for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, The U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved both bills. The bills are now ready for consideration by the full Senate.

The Department of Defense Appropriations Bill provides funding for the following priorities that are important to Tennessee and to the nation:

  • The bill funds a 1.6 percent pay raise for military personnel, including those stationed at Fort Campbell and Naval Support Activity Mid-South and provides funding to support 1,281,900 active duty troops and 801,200 reserve troops.
  • $900 million for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account, which helps the Guard pay for new equipment and maintain and modernizes existing equipment.
  • $25 million more than the president requested to continue the Special Victims Counsel Program to provide legal assistance and support to victims of sexual assault.

The Homeland Security Appropriations Bill provides funding for the following priorities that are important to Tennessee and to the nation:

  • $11.18 billion for Customs and Border Protection, which is $125 million more than last year. This supports 21,370 Border Patrol Agents and 23,775 Customs and Border Patrol officers. The funding also supports maintenance of border fencing, procurement of additional surveillance systems and unmanned aerial system capabilities.
  • $5.96 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce our nation’s immigration laws, which is $132 million more than last year.
  • $5.08 billion for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which will fund 1,344 new TSA screeners, 50 new canine teams and investments in checkpoint technology to help improve security wait times for airline passengers across the country.

The first fiscal year 2017 appropriations bill passed by the Senate was the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill – which Sen. Alexander, as chairman of appropriations subcommittee, wrote with Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Last week, the Senate also passed the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill and the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

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