Durbin, Bustos: Omnibus Approriations Bill & National Defense Authorization Act Invest In The Future Of Rock Island Arsenal

[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 2015 – which was introduced in the House of Representatives today – and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – which was passed by the House last week – include multiple provisions that will help solidify the future of Rock Island Arsenal and ensure its long-term health. The Omnibus Appropriations Bill must now be voted on by both chambers of Congress and the NDAA must be passed by the Senate before each bill can be signed into law by President Obama. 

“The provisions included in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill and the National Defense Authorization Act will help provide the kind of thoughtful, engaged approach we need to ensure the long-term health of the Rock Island Arsenal,” Durbin said. “Time and again, the Arsenal has been there for state, our country, and our men and women in uniform. My colleague in the House of Representatives, Cheri Bustos, and I are committed to making sure that remains the case.”

“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,” Bustos said. “This critical investment 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.”

Improving Rock Island Arsenal’s Competitiveness: The Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015 includes $225 million in funding for Industrial Mobilization Capacity (IMC) to help arsenals keep their work rates competitive. This funding helps 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.

Durbin included a similar provision in the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2014, which was funded in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2014. Under this provision, the Rock Island Arsenal was allocated $110 million through the Arsenal Sustainment Initiative to help ensure that the Arsenal remains competitive as it bids on additional workload through its partnerships with the private sector.

Ensuring a Steady, Higher Level Workload: The compromise NDAA includes a provision that directs the Secretary of the Army to maintain a minimum workload at Rock Island Arsenal (and the arsenals in New York and Arkansas). This is similar to a provision Durbin originally authored as part of his Defense Appropriation Bill for Fiscal Year 2014 to require the Secretary of the Army to maintain a minimum workload at arsenals as calculated by the Army Organic Industrial Base Strategy Report.

Durbin also included a similar directive in the Defense Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015, and this appropriator-authorizer consensus – for the first time this year – sends a strong signal of Congressional support for arsenals. 

The Army Organic Industrial Base Strategy Report 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. Up until that point, the Army had not conducted this type of systematic support for arsenals.

Putting Arsenals on a Level Playing Field with Other Military Installations: The NDAA compromise legislation also includes a provision that eliminates the Secretary of the Army’s current authority to close an arsenal if he deems it necessary. This provision puts arsenals on a level playing field with other military installations, and ensures that any change in status can only be made through a standard process.