Durbin, Bustos: Omnibus Appropriations Bill Improves Rock Island Arsenal Competativeness, Ensures Steady Workload in Future

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL) today announced that the Omnibus Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014, which was filed in the House and Senate earlier today includes two provisions that will help solidify the future of Rock Island Arsenal.  The bill, which reflects a budget agreement between the House and Senate, must now be voted on by both chambers of Congress and signed into law by President Obama. 


“As a result of the postwar drawdown and sequestration, Rock Island Arsenal, like many military installations, has seen a decline in workload,” said Durbin.  “Today’s bill stops that decline with minimum workload requirements to maintain critical national security capabilities and targeted spending increases that will allow Rock Island Arsenal to be more competitive with the private sector.  Rock Island Arsenal will continue to be a powerful economic engine in the Quad Cities region and a leader in supporting and promoting our nation’s defense.”


“The Rock Island Arsenal and its workers not only manufacture equipment that arms and protects our troops, but it is also the engine that drives our region’s economy,” Congresswoman Cheri Bustos said.  “This bipartisan bill includes important provisions that will bolster the Arsenal’s competitiveness and help guarantee a steady workload for years to come.  I’ll continue to partner with Senator Durbin and leaders in our bi-state region to ensure the Arsenal and our local economy remain strong in peacetime as well as wartime.”


Ensuring a Steady, Higher Level Workload


The first provision requires the Secretary of the Army to maintain a minimum workload at Rock Island Arsenal (and the arsenals in New York and Arkansas). The bill dictates that workload levels should be set to allow the arsenals to maintain critical capabilities and remain healthy, specifically those levels consistent with the Army Organic Industrial Base Strategy Report.


The Army Organic Industrial Base Strategy Report, which has not yet been released, was first proposed by Durbin and U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as part of the Army Arsenal Strategic Workload Enhancement Act of 2012.  The study was authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 which directed the Secretary of Defense to create a strategic plan to ensure arsenals, including Rock Island, receive the workload they need to keep workers’ skills sharp. The Army does this type of systematic planning for some of its components but not for arsenals.


Improving Rock Island Arsenal’s Competitiveness


The second provision will ensure that Rock Island Arsenal will be competitive as it bids on additional workload through its partnerships with the private sector by providing additional funding through the Arsenal Sustainment Initiative.  Rock Island Arsenal will be eligible for a portion of the $150 million included in the bill for Industrial Mobilization Capacity, a fund which helps arsenals keep their work rates competitive.  This will help Rock Island Arsenal and other arsenals compete more effectively for public-private partnerships and other business to help sustain capacity, cost efficiency and technical competence in peacetime, while preserving the ability to provide an effective and timely response to mobilizations, national defense contingency situations and other emergent requirements.