Recent Press Releases

Senate Passes Defense Funding Measures and Temporary Funding for other Federal Agencies

-Defense Funding Included for Important South Dakota Projects -

September 27, 2008

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today announced that the Senate has approved legislation to fund the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security for the entirety of Fiscal Year 2009, which begins on October 1st. In addition, the measure ensures that all other government agencies are funded through a six month continuing resolution through March 1, 2009.
"While this stopgap funding measure ensures that non-defense related agencies will receive six months of funding to allow Congress additional time to ultimately pass the remaining appropriation measures next year, it is tremendously disappointing that Democrat leaders have failed to complete action on each of the appropriation bills as required by law.
"The one silver lining in this funding measure is the fact that due to Republican leadership and the growing frustration from the American public, we succeeded in ending the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling. This is a big step as we work to become more energy independent and reduce our nation's dangerous dependence on imported oil," said Thune.
This legislation includes $46.9 billion for veterans benefits and $41 billion for veterans health care.
This legislation also includes a number of important defense related projects for South Dakota. As part of the legislation passed, $60.8 million in military construction projects were allocated for South Dakota, including projects for Ellsworth Air Force Base and Camp Rapid in Rapid City, and projects for Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls.
The legislation passed includes the following projects for South Dakota:

  • $29 million to provide a Joint Forces Headquarters Readiness Center in Rapid City. This building provides the National Guard with a facility to perform all tasks associated with readiness for national defense and homeland support missions.
  • $14.4 million to construct a new multi-purpose National Guard building at Camp Rapid in Rapid City. The building replaces tin hutments built in 1970 and provides a new structure to facilitate unit training, administration, security, and command and control.

  • $11 million to upgrade the base entry and perimeter gates at Ellsworth AFB. This addition will provide increased force protection and help the base to comply with current antiterrorism requirements.

  • $6.4 million for multiple infrastructure improvements and additions to aircraft shelters, maintenance and munitions facilities for the South Dakota Air National Guard at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls, including aircraft shelters.

  • $33.3 million for National Guard acquisition programs, including upgrade kits for targeting system pods for Air National Guard F-16 aircraft, like those at Joe Foss Field. Additionally, South Dakota Guard F-16's received $1.4 million for advanced fire control computer upgrades and $4 million is included for Joint Chemical Air Detectors for use by National Guard troops to provide advanced detection and warning of chemical warfare agents.

  • $206 million for the modernization and upgrade of 67 B-1B bombers. These funds would go toward the procurement, modernization and upgrade of combat capabilities of the entire U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber fleet, including those at Ellsworth AFB.

  • $2 million to develop technology to further reduce the weight and enhance the efficiency of electric drive and power generation systems for U.S. Army vehicles compared to current combustion engine-transmission drive methods. This project is under development by Dakota Power in Rapid City.

  • $8.9 million for multiple defense related advanced technology programs led by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, including development of: multi-utility materials for Army Future Combat Systems, control systems for advanced material fabrication systems, methods to detect improvised explosive devices, and research on small unmanned aerial vehicles, shielding rocket payloads, and advanced body armor.

  • $800,000 for a University of South Dakota project to retrofit existing magnetic resonance imaging equipment to improve diagnostic and research capabilities aimed at better treatment of soldiers suffering from psychological issues and physical injury.

  • $13 million for four defense projects spearheaded by South Dakota State University. These innovative projects include research on accelerated materials development for Army cannon systems, renewable jet fuel from alternative sources, alternative power for missile defense systems, and better predicting biological threat sources.

  • $2.4 million for next-generation respiratory protection devices that incorporate anti-bacterial agents, new materials, and design features to significant improve performance, fit, and comfort. The product will be produced by 3M's Aberdeen plant and would be broadly used throughout military medical facilities.

  • $1.6 million for biological threat antibody research, in order to devise methods to produce large quantities of countermeasures for multiple different biological agents, such as bacteria, viruses, and biotoxins.

The House of Representatives passed this funding measure earlier this week and it will soon be sent to the President for his consideration.