Durbin: Defense Appropriations Bill Invests in Groundbreaking Research & Protects Illinois Priorities

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, announced today that the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill – which provides $572.8 billion in funding for the military and intelligence community, our national security requirements and the daily needs of over two million active duty and reserve servicemembers – funds Illinois defense installations and protects important Illinois priorities.  The legislation was completed late last night and is expected to be voted on this week by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“Illinois has long taken a leadership role in our nation’s defense. Not only does our state claim three of our country’s most important and dynamic defense installations – Rock Island Arsenal, Scott Air Force Base, and Naval Station Great Lakes – we are also home to 13,000 National Guardsmen who serve throughout Illinois,” Durbin said.


“As Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, I have worked with my colleagues to maintain our state’s leadership and to ensure that Illinois servicemembers, their families, and our military and civilian workforce have the support they need and deserve.”


Stronger Investments in Groundbreaking Research

Continuing to invest in basic and advanced research and development is essential to maintaining our technological edge on the battlefield and enhancing our national security.  The bill supports these efforts by increasing funding for basic research by 10% over FY2016 requested levels to $2.32 billion.

Just as investing in basic and advanced science has paid great dividends, similar investments in medical research and battlefield medicine are saving more lives while improving care options and quality of life after injuries.  This knowledge helps better inform treatment for everyone.  Today’s legislation supports these efforts by increasing funding for medical research at the Department of Defense by 7% over FY2015 enacted levels to $1.935 billion.


Federal funding for research and development has been on a downward trend for the past several decades leading to a $1.5 trillion investment deficit that has forced a growing number of America’s best young researchers to take their talents to other industries – and other countries.  For several years, Senator Durbin has championed increased investment to reverse this trend.  Durbin authored The American Innovation Act and The American Cures Act to set steady growth rates in federal appropriations for biomedical and scientific research conducted at the nation’s premier federal research agencies.



Durbin has served on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for 26 years. He assumed Chairmanship of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee in 2013, taking over from his close friend and former Appropriations Committee Chairman, Daniel Inouye.  In 2015, he became the Vice Chairman of the subcommittee after Republicans assumed leadership of the Senate.


The FY16 Department of Defense Appropriations Act including funding for the following Illinois defense installations and priorities.


Rock Island Arsenal


The legislation provides $60 million for Humvee Ambulances and $100 million for Humvee modernization which helps meet a continuing Army need.


It also includes $145 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 FY14 & FY15 Department of Defense Appropriations Bills, which were both funded in the final legislation.


The FY16 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill requires the Secretary of the Army to maintain a minimum workload at Rock Island Arsenal (and the arsenals in New York and Arkansas). The legislation also directs the Secretary of Defense to review opportunities within other services and the Defense Logistics Agency to maximize workloads at arsenals.


St. Louis Region


The Navy has identified a need for additional F/A-18s and E/A-18Gs as part of its FY16 unfunded requests list, as well as an ongoing need for electronic attack capability.


To meet that need, the FY16 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill includes $350 million in funding for five F/A-18s and $660 million in funding for seven E/A-18Gs.  Production of F/A-18s and E/A-18Gs is based at Boeing’s St. Louis plant, which employs thousands of workers, including 2,000 from Illinois.


In addition, the bill includes an additional $8 million for F-18 generator upgrades.


Today’s legislation also adds $300 million for R&D for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program, for which Boeing and several other companies are competing.


Lovell Federal Health Care Center


The legislation approved by the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee today also fully funds President Obama’s budget request – $121 million through the Department of Defense – to extend the DOD-VA pilot program at Lovell Federal Health Care Center for a fifth year.


Since 1999, Durbin has played a major role in the development and implementation of the Lovell Federal Health Care Center, which serves as an integrated healthcare facility for both servicemembers and veterans in the North Chicago region.


Illinois National Guard (Peoria & Rantoul)


The FY15 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill provides an additional $33.2 million to accelerate nationwide engine upgrades and enhancements to C-130H aircraft, eight of which are flown by the 182nd Air National Guard wing based in Peoria, Illinois. These upgrades will reduce the need for repairs to the C-130H aircraft, and will also make them more powerful and energy efficient.


The bill also provides an additional $5.207 million in funding for the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. ChalleNGe academics – including Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy in Rantoul, Illinois – give at-risk youths who have dropped out of high school a second chance at completing their education using a military model. Since its founding in 1993, 35 ChalleNGe academies across the country have graduated more than 120,000 participants.


Ammunition Production in East Alton and Marion, Illinois


The bill maintains funding for numerous ammunition lines – including lines produced at Olin Brass in East Alton, Illinois and General Dynamics in Marion, Illinois – which are critical to the safety of our troops overseas.


Army Corps of Engineers, Champaign


The bill supports President Obama’s budget request for the Army Corps of Engineers Research Center in Champaign, Illinois.  The Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) concentrates on improving the design and effectiveness of Army installations and ranges, making them more resilient, efficient and affordable.  CERL research and products also improve environmental sustainability while contributing to other Army Corps Research Center priorities.