US FY2012 defense policy includes $3.01 Billion for V-22, $1.18 Billon for other Bell programs

US FY2012 defense policy includes $3.01 Billion for V-22, $1.18 Billon for other Bell programs

13-May-2011 Source: Congressman Mac Thornberry

Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon), the Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today announced that the committee approved the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (H.R. 1540) by a vote of 60 to 1.  The bill authorizes $690 billion in total spending for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy, including funding for projects at Pantex and Bell Helicopter.

“In April, I again visited with our Armed Forces on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.  They continue to perform their duty remarkably well as evidenced by the great strides I witnessed in both places,” said Rep. Thornberry.  “It is critical to our national security to keep this progress going.  Even in a time of tight budgets this defense legislation provides significant support for our fighting forces, offers additional resources for other national security efforts, and helps us prepare to deal with national security threats that are still emerging – all in a fiscally responsible way,” he continued.

Locally, the annual defense policy bill authorizes funding for programs at Bell Helicopter and Pantex.  Bell Helicopter projects funded include a total of $3.008 billion for the V-22 Osprey program, $870.9 million for Huey (UH-1Y) and Cobra (AH-1Z) helicopters, and $307.6 for the Kiowa Warrior helicopter.  These amounts include the purchase of new aircraft, upgrades and modifications to existing ones, and research and development.  Bell Helicopter’s Amarillo plant is the primary location for work conducted on the Osprey program.  The facility also performs work on the Huey, Cobra, and Kiowa Warrior helicopters.

The legislation also provides $649.4 million for Pantex for weapons assembly and disassembly, weapons evaluation, research and development, and other funding for staff and support.  This represents a nearly 20 percent increase, or more than $110 million dollars, over last year’s budget request.

“Pantex, Bell Helicopter Textron, and their workforces are a real credit to our area, to our country, and to our national defense.  Their work and the resulting product have a great reputation, which is rightly deserved.   This defense bill recognizes their importance to our security and provides funding to reflect it,” said Thornberry.

Overall, the legislation would authorize $553 billion for the Department of Defense’s base budget, $119 billion for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and $18 billion for the Department of Energy’s atomic energy defense programs. Additionally, the bill contains $10.5 billion for the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM)—a 7 percent increase over last year’s funding level – which includes the forces that conducted the operation on Osama bin Laden.

Included in the legislation is a 1.6 percent across-the-board pay raise for all members of the Armed Forces in 2012.  It also would block, for a year, any increase in enrollment fees for participants in the TRICARE Prime health maintenance organization, part of the military’s health care network.

The bill would also allow the Department of Defense to increase TRICARE fees for working age retirees by an average of $2.50 a month for individuals and $5 a month for families, which is the first increase in the program in 16 years.  It does, however, cap the Department of Defense’s ability to increase fees beyond cost-of-living adjustments in the future.

Thornberry said he was hopeful the House Leadership would bring H.R. 1540 to a vote by the full House before Memorial Day.

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