WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has secured a provision to block the Department of Defense from moving forward with plans to transfer an important Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) responsibility away from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Brown’s provision maintaining AFRL’s role will pass as part of the overall Defense Authorization Bill. That vote is expected this evening.

Last summer the Department of Defense announced plans to transfer management and program responsibilities of the research program, authorized under the Defense Production Act’s (DPA) Title III, away from AFRL at Wright-Patt and house it at the Pentagon instead. The move could have put local jobs, investments, and active projects at risk. Brown’s provision will prevent DOD from moving the initiative away from Wright-Patt without Congressional approval. The DPA is overseen by the Senate Banking Committee, on which Brown sits as ranking member.

The DPA helps ensure that there is enough defense manufacturing capacity to meet the needs of the DOD. The office that manages the initiative – and has successfully managed it for decades – is currently housed at the AFRL at Wright-Patt, and will remain there under Brown’s provision. Brown wrote to DOD arguing against the move last year.

The Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Lab helps create jobs and support our defense capabilities by carrying out this important manufacturing initiative. The workers at the Lab have the deep institutional knowledge and experience we need to continue making these defense manufacturing investments, and to oversee the program to ensure current projects are successful and cost-effective,” Brown said.

Brown also secured additional support for Wright-Patt’s critical missions in the Defense package that passed the Senate today, including funding for additional research and development projects, and funding for construction to expand the National Air and Space Intel Center. The Senate will now move to merge its bill with the House and Brown will continue fighting for Ohio priorities throughout the process.

“This funding will make sure Wright-Patt’s highly-skilled workers can continue to do their jobs and help meet our national security needs,” Brown said.

Key Wright-Patt priorities Brown helped secure in the Defense Authorization Bill:

  • Keeps Defense Production Act (DPA) Jobs at Wright-Patt
    • The Manufacturing Technology Division of Wright-Patterson’s Air Force Research Lab helps run a key defense manufacturing program that allows the federal government to support defense-related manufacturing when domestic capabilities aren’t able to meet national security needs. The program was created under the Defense Production Act (DPA), and supports Ohio jobs and brings investments to the region through contracts awarded to the program. Last summer, DOD announced plans to shift DPA Title III management from the Air Force to the Pentagon – which would have moved some of these DPA jobs away from Wright-Patt. Brown wrote to DOD immediately, urging it to keep DPA housed at Wright-Patt (learn more).  Brown secured language in the NDAA bill that bars DOD from moving program management of DPA without Congressional approval and keeps the jobs in Ohio. Brown secured this language in his broader bill to guard against security threats from China. That entire bill was incorporated into NDAA, including the provision to keep management of the DPA Title II program at Wright-Patt (learn more).
    • Authorizes more than $1 billion worth of research and development work for Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Directorates at Wright-Patt. Brown will continue working to secure appropriations for this funding as the process moves forward.
    • Authorizes $116 million for military construction to expand National Air and Space Intel Center (NASIC) at Wright-Patt. Simultaneously, the Appropriations Committee released its bill last week which appropriates the full $116 million.
    • Authorizes $7.9 million for energy and conservation projects at Wright-Patt. Brown will continue working to secure appropriations for this funding as the process moves forward.
    • Protecting Dayton’s Water from Toxic Chemicals known as PFAS
      • The bill includes $298.8 billion for Air Force bases like Wright-Patt to continue efforts to keep Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances – toxic chemicals known as PFAS – from getting into the local water supply and additional funding to further the development of alternative chemicals that are safer.
      • Separately, Brown is working to support the City of Dayton’s efforts to monitor local water and ensure it is safe. As part of that effort, Brown organized a bipartisan group of 10 Senators, including Senator Portman, to demand that the Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency release a new report outlining what levels of PFAS chemicals are safe. Brown has said Dayton deserves to have access to the best science available to ensure the local water is safe and EPA, HHS and the Air Force must help the city with those efforts.