Defense Appropriations Bill Includes Funds for Maui Space Surveillance
By Maui Now Staff
The Senate Appropriations Committee today passed the Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016, which includes funding for two Maui projects.
The bill includes $12.9 million for the Maui Space Surveillance System, a one-of-a-kind electro-optical facility that supports the Air Force’s efforts to track space debris.
There’s also a $222 million appropriation for the Army’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program, which funds the Department of Defense’s regional supercomputing centers, including the Maui High Performance Computing Center.
Working with Committee leaders, US Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaiʻi was able to increase funding for the program by $45 million above the President’s budget, according to information released by his office today.
Schatz, who is a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, announced the funding breakdown, saying he worked to include defense programs important to Hawaiʻi in the bill.
“The funding for defense programs that the Appropriations Committee passed today is a key investment in our national security and is further indication of the important role Hawaiʻi plays in our defense strategy,” said Senator Schatz in a press release.
“Within the constraints of the sequester, a number of Hawaiʻi’s defense priorities were funded. These are critical if we are going to have a successful strategy to rebalance to the Asia Pacific. But ultimately Congress will need to abandon the sequester in order to make all of the investments necessary. I hope my colleagues will join me in a bipartisan effort to end the sequester in the weeks ahead as opposed to waiting until late this year,” he said.
Senator Schatz also outlined other Hawaiʻi programs that were included in the Defense Appropriations bill (including the following):
- $75 million in clean energy research for the military to help Hawaiʻi to continue to lead in clean energy technology and implementation, which will pay dividends to our state, our economy, and our national security. Senator Schatz worked to secure the $75 million in funding which was not part of the President’s budget.
- $233 million for the environmental restoration on Formerly Used Defense Sites, a program that ensures that the US Army Corps of Engineers can continue its efforts to identify and remove unexploded ordnance at former military sites across the neighbor islands and that military training and activities remain in balance with Hawaiʻi’s local needs. Senator Schatz worked to secure an additional $30 million above the President’s budget.
- $75 million for DoD’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative program, which helps to promote conservation near military installations in Hawaiʻi. The $75 million includes a $14.75 million increase Senator Schatz was able to secure.
Senator Schatz also explained language updates in the bill including:
- A provision protecting Pacific Fleet’s operational and administrative control over US Navy forces in Hawaiʻi and would protect PACFLT from having its ships reassigned without proper review from PACFLT and US Pacific Command, protecting important Navy force structure in the State of Hawaiʻi and DoD’s commitment to rebalance to the Asia Pacific.
- A provision in the report that guides the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with other US agencies, to develop and implement a strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s online presence. ISIL has expertly exploited social media to spread its propaganda, intimidate its opposition, raise money, and draw new recruits into its ranks. Its online presence has direct, negative impacts on the ground in Iraq and Syria, hindering US efforts to destroy ISIL and stem the flow of extremists to the region. However, the United States currently lacks a coordinated strategy to combat ISIL’s online effort. The report language directs a government-wide effort to begin addressing this hole in the US effort to combat ISIL.