Senate Passes Defense Bill with Provisions Brown Secured For Dayton & Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Including New PFAS Standards

Senator Secured Language Authorizing the Investment at Wright-Patt in Senate Bill; Will Continue Fighting to Secure Funds in Final Appropriations Bill; Senator also Secured New Disposal & Transparency Standards for PFAS Chemicals

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate today passed the final National Defense Authorization Act, which included key investments secured by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for Dayton and the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Brown helped secure these funds in the House-Senate NDAA conference report, which now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The funds still need to be appropriated, and Brown said he will continue fighting to secure these funds in the final Defense Appropriations bill.

The bill includes:

  • An additional $117 million per year for the next five years to support critical Defense Production Act (DPA) projects nationwide, which would help support DPA jobs at Wright-Patt
    • This comes after Brown successfully secured a provision in last year’s NDAA to prevent DPA jobs from leaving Ohio by ensuring that the AFRL would continue to manage this critical program.
  • $1.359 billion to support critical research and development programs run out of Wright-Patt’s Air Force Research Lab (AFRL)
  • $120.9 million to support military construction of Wright-Patt’s new National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC)
  • $35.7 million to support improvements and rehabilitation efforts for Wright-Patt’s historic Brick Quarters Housing District
  • Several provisions to phase out the use of and crack down on hazardous materials like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have been found in Dayton drinking water.

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

Brown continued, “PFAS materials have been associated with a variety of adverse human health effects, including birth defects and immune system dysfunction. This bill is just a start, but given the significant public health concerns related to these chemicals, I’m glad to see action taken to reduce exposure to PFAS and address any potential negative health effects contamination from these materials may have on our communities.”

DPA Increased Funding

The Manufacturing Technology Division of Wright-Patterson’s Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) helps run a key defense manufacturing program, which is housed at Wright-Patt, 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. The DPA is overseen by the Senate Banking Committee, on which Brown sits as Ranking Member.

Anticipating a major increase in the need for leading edge industrial base technology projects in the next several years, identified by Pentagon planners, Brown led the effort with Sen. Crapo (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, to increase authorized funding under the DPA from $133 million annually to $250 million annually for the next five years. This authorization will provide an additional $117 million annually over the next five years and will help the DOD address risks to the manufacturing and defense industrial base. This funding will be used for projects across the country and will help support jobs at Wright-Patt.

Two years ago, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced plans to transfer management and program responsibilities for the DPA’s Title III program away from AFRL at Wright-Patt and house them at the Pentagon. The move could have put local jobs, investments, and active projects at risk. Following this news, Brown wrote to DOD immediately, urging it to keep DPA program managers housed at Wright-Patt.

Brown then secured language in the Senate’s NDAA bill last year that bars DOD from moving program management of DPA without Congressional approval and keeps the jobs in Ohio. 

AFRL Funding

The bill would authorize more than $1.359 billion for research and development programs run out of the Air Force Research Lab’s (AFRL) Materials, Human Effectiveness, Propulsion, Aerospace Systems, Sensors and Manufacturing Directorates at Wright-Patt. This funding is critical to addressing emerging threats and strategic challenges that our men and women in uniform face. 

NASIC Military Construction Funding

This bill would also authorize $120.9 million to support military construction efforts for Wright-Patt’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC).

Last year, Brown was able to help secure more funding for NASIC construction than ever before, when the NDAA authorized $182 million for phase one and two of NASIC’s expansion. The project received an appropriation authorization of $61 million for Fiscal Year 2019 to begin construction.

  • In 2018, Brown wrote to then-DOD Secretary Jim Mattis calling for an investment at NASIC, along with other Ohio priorities. In 2017, Brown spoke to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson about investing in construction needs at the base.
  • Prior to that, in 2017, Brown – as co-chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus – brought his Republican caucus co-chair John Boozman (R-AR), Armed Services Committee Members Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to visit Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and tour the facility. Together, Brown and Portman highlighted critical research and development work done at the base in support of the Air Force and national security.
  • Brown also met with Sec. Mattis in 2017 to outline Ohio military priorities. During the meeting, Brown invited Mattis to visit Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Air National Guard 178th Wing in Springfield.

Historic Brick Quarters Housing District at Wright-Patt

The bill also authorizes more than $35.7 million to support improvements efforts for 29 of Wright-Patt’s historic Brick Quarters Housing District units. This housing on the Wright-Patt campus is in need of rehabilitation to meet current safety standards and this funding will ensure the buildings are updated to best support those living in the historic homes on the base. The Brick Officer housing was built in 1930s and was designed in the Tudor Revival style.

PFAS

Ohioans in the Miami Valley are living with the presence of toxic chemicals known as PFAS contaminating their drinking water. PFAS chemicals are contaminating water supplies all over the country, and Brown has been fighting for tougher standards to crack down on this contamination and require the DOD to be more transparent with communities affected by the contamination.

The provisions in this bill will:

  • Establish a new disposal standard for the PFAS foam as it relates to DOD;
  • Encourage cooperative agreements between states and DOD entities as it relates to contamination, cleanup, testing and monitoring for PFAS at DOD sites;
  • Encourage blood testing for firefighters at DOD installations to determine PFAS exposure;
  • Require a phase out of PFAS containing firefighting foam;
  • Require the DOD to enter into agreements with municipalities or municipal drinking water utilities located adjacent to military installations and share monitoring data relating to PFAS contaminants at the military installation; and
  • Require the DOD to maintain a publicly available website that provides a clearinghouse for information about the exposure of members of the Armed Forces, their families, and their communities to PFAS substances.

   

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