Senate Appropriations Bills Include Funds for Everglades Restoration, Rebuilding Tyndall Air Force Base

With help from Florida’s two U.S. senators, the FY2020 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill and the FY2020 Department of Defense Appropriations bill cleared the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee with $200 million for Everglades restoration and funds to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base.

From his perch on the Appropriations Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., weighed in on the funds for the Everglades and for Tyndall which was devastated by Hurricane Michael back in October. Rubio, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Gov. Ron DeSantis had urged President Donald Trump to fully fund Everglades restoration, including in a letter to the White House in May.

“I am proud to have secured these funds for Florida through my role on the Senate Appropriations Committee,” Rubio said. “Fully funding President Trump’s updated budget request of $200 million for Everglades restoration is critical for Florida’s future. Everglades restoration is not just an environmental project, it is intricately tied to all of the water issues in Florida and has an extraordinary economic impact on our state.

“Importantly, the defense funding bill continues to advance vital priorities for our national defense, makes the necessary investment to widen the gap between the United States and China or Russia, and includes a pay raise for our brave servicemembers,” Rubio continued. “Additionally, the bill provides increased funding for U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and supports ongoing recovery efforts at Tyndall Air Force Base. It also provides the resources necessary to ramp up production for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program in advance of the upcoming increase of F-35s stationed at Eglin Air Force Base and for future fighters which will call Tyndall AFB home once the rebuild is completed.”

Scott also cheered the news and weighed in on Thursday.

“I was the first governor to put state funding towards fixing the federal dike at Lake Okeechobee and I’ve consistently fought for federal funding for projects to help restore and protect Florida’s Everglades, including this $200 million SFER project,” Scott said. “I’d like to thank Senator Marco Rubio and his colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee for their commitment to protecting Florida’s natural treasures for generations to come. I hope the full Senate will join in support of this vital project to protect the Everglades and pass this funding quickly.”

According to Rubio’s office, the senator was able to shape the bills, include funds for the Sunshine State, as follows:

Funding for Florida Ports and Waterways:

Makes available up to $387.7 million in additional construction funding for use at the Corps’ discretion in expanding Florida’s coastal and deep draft navigation seaports and $607.6 million to dredge and maintain Florida’s deep draft harbors and channels, including:

  • JAXPORT- $8.31 million
  • Port Canaveral- $1.474 million
  • Port Everglades- $373,000
  • Port Manatee- $230,000
  • PortMiami- $230,000
  • Port of Palm Beach- $3.97 million
  • Port Tampa Bay- $8.53 million
  • $50 million for Donor and Energy Transfer Ports (Port Miami is one of only six ports nationally that receive money from this pot)
  • Directs nearly $3.5 million for maintaining Florida’s Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and makes available up to $23.9 million in additional funding for use at the Corps’ discretion in maintaining

Florida’s Intracoastal Waterways:

  • Makes available up to $50 million in additional funding for use at the Corps’ discretion in maintaining Florida’s inland waterways including the Okeechobee Waterway.
  • Manatee Harbor: report language related to the Corps’ preparation of an appropriate agreement to allow for the assumption of maintenance dredging of the South Channel and for reimbursement to Port Manatee of the federal share of the construction work completed.

Army Corps Reform:

  • Rubio has continued to advocate for reforms that increase the cost-effectiveness and timeliness of federal water resource project construction by empowering experienced and qualified local sponsors including:
  • Directing the Corps to better define and standardize the provision of technical assistance provided to non-federal project interests undertaking Sec. 203 feasibility studies (the process used to develop the EAA Storage Reservoir project); and
  • Encouraging continued progress on the development of the Sec. 1043 non-Federal Implementation Pilot Program which would evaluate the cost-effectiveness and project delivery efficiency of allowing non-federal sponsors to carry out authorized federal projects.
  • Hurricane Dorian:
    • Report language urging the Corps to expedite assessment, rehabilitation, and renourishment of federally authorized shore protection projects along Hurricane Dorian’s path to minimize the potential for future losses of life and property through the remainder of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane season.
  • Environmental Infrastructure:
    • Makes available up to $80 million in additional funding for use at the Corps’ discretion in improving wastewater collection and treatment in the Florida Keys and Charlotte County.
    • Caño Martin Peña Ecosystem Restoration Project: Encourages the Corps to include appropriate funding in future budget requests to minimize project planning and construction delays of this critical project in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • South Atlantic Coastal Study: Report language supporting the importance of engaging state, local, and tribal officials throughout the South Atlantic Coastal Study process to ensure the methodology, focus, and results are implementable by states and communities.
  • Enhanced Options for Sand Acquisition: Encourages the Corps to provide states with guidance and recommendations to implement cost effective measures and planning for sand management, which is in line with Rubio’s SAND Act.
  • Harmful Algal Blooms: Additional funding and language regarding concerns about the increasing threat to human health and public safety related to Harmful Algal Blooms.

 

Rubio’s provisions in the FY2020 Department of Defense Appropriations bill ($694.1 billion):

Disaster Relief: Provides $1.7 billion for disaster relief relating to the consequences of Hurricanes Michael and Florence and flooding and earthquakes occurring in FY19. This funding in addition to disaster-related funding in the Military Construction appropriations bill is essential for the recovery of military installations in the Florida panhandle, especially Tyndall Air Force Base. This funding is broken down as follows:

  • Operation & Maintenance: $951,500,000
  • Procurement: $408,745,000
  • Research, Development, Test and Evaluation: $113,000,000
  • Defense Working Capital Funds: $237,000,000
  • Military Pay Raise: Supports a pay raise of 3.1 percent for U.S. servicemembers

U.S. Southern Command:

  • Recommends an additional $25.3 million to fund U.S. Southern Command intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements, including $15 million in order to achieve a greater level of geospatial intelligence of the features, objects, activities and environments in the SOUTHCOM area of operations.
  • Recommends funds be used to leverage relationships with academic partners to establish a database of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)-derived geospatial information SOUTHCOM operations based on the most technically advanced SAR systems available and the use of automated intelligence and machine learning techniques.

National Security Space Launch:

  • Provides $1.2 billion in funding for the National Security Space Launch program.
  • Supports the Air Force’s latest acquisition strategy for next generation launch vehicles and launch service procurement for National Security Space Launch as the best path forward for transitioning from the Russian RD-180 engine, increasing competition, and reducing launch costs, while maintaining assured access to space.
  • Supports the requirement that launch providers must be able to meet all national security space launch requirements, including the delivery into space of any national security payload.
  • In order to prevent any risk of delaying the transition from the RD-180 engine and critical integration time lines of national security missions with new launch systems, the bill backs the current acquisition schedule and mission performance requirements while opposing any efforts to reduce the total quantity of planned missions below 34.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter:

  • Provides $1.85 billion for 18 additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and associated spare parts, including 12 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant and 6 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant, for a total of 96 F-35s in FY20.
  • Increases funding for the F-35 by providing an additional $156,000,000 in advance procurement for the F-35A and $1.056 billion to purchase 12 additional F-35As in FY20.
  • Provides $791 million to procure six additional F-35Bs for the Marine Corps.
  • Includes $250 million to help offset the cost of establishing alternate sources in the F-35 supply chain due to Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program following its acquisition of Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems.

Light Attack Aircraft:

  • Provides $210 million for 6 O/A-X Light Attack Aircraft and requires the Air Force to being shifting the program towards procurement.

Disaster Relief Assistance to the Bahamas:

  • Provision highlighting the destruction and devastation in the Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian.
  • Additionally it encourages the Department of Defense to continue to prioritize Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid (OHDCA) funding to provide the Bahamas with humanitarian and disaster relief support, including logistics, transportation, health, and engineering assessments.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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