The House has approved the final version of a measure that cuts the Dept. of Defense's fiscal 2004 construction budget by 13%, to $9.3 billion. The House passed the military construction appropriations conference agreement on Nov. 5, by a 417-5 vote. Still to come is a Senate floor vote and then President Bush's expected signature.
Appropriators did find some additional money in conference: the $9.3 billion total is $120 million higher than the levels contained in the versions that had passed each House earlier this year.
The measure includes $1.1 billion for building and rehabilitating military family housing, down 20% from the 2003 level. The base realignment and closure account continues to decline: the bill reduces that program by 34%, to $370 million, with $323 million of that to go for environmental cleanup.
The bill provides $5.3 billion for other military construction, such as barracks, airfield work and health-care facilities, down 9% from 2003. A large item in that section of the measure is $1.2 billion for new barracks.
The biggest winner among domestic military posts is the Army's Fort Wainwright in Alaska, which will get $274 million, including $72 million for phase five of a new hospital and $47 million for a training range complex. Other posts with large allocations include: the Army's Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, with $177 million for housing and other projects; and Fort Bragg, N.C, with $150 million for three barracks projects and several other facilities.
Appropriators were tough on the Bush administration's "mil con" plans overseas. They cut the White House request for U.S. posts in Germany by 44%, to $129 million, and its proposal for work at installations in Korea by 31%, to $89 million.
They also mandated creation of a commission to study the U.S. military's overseas posts. That panel's report, due Dec. 31, 2004, will study whether the U.S.. overseas force size is adequate and whether some of the bases should be closed, or new ones built.