The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $700 billion defense policy measure Tuesday that includes items aimed at helping the Rock Island Arsenal.
Among the items is a provision that extends the ability of arsenals, depots and ammunition plants to lease underused space, according to Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois,, who was on the committee that hammered out the details of the final legislation.
“Over the last month, I proudly worked across party lines to deliver a National Defense bill that strengthens our military capabilities while ensuring that hardworking Illinoisans will continue playing a crucial role in our national security,” Bustos said in a statement.
Bustos doesn’t sit on the House Armed Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over the legislation approved Tuesday but she got an appointment to the conference committee, which reconciled differing House and Senate versions of the legislation.
The Senate still must act on the measure. The House approved the bill, 356-70.
Quad-City area lawmakers have been working for more than a year to extend the Arsenal’s ability to lease space on the island. A Senate measure approved last year included language from Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, to achieve that goal, but it wasn’t taken up in the House.
Also included in the House-passed legislation is a requirement that the Army establish guidance on whether to procure items in the private sector or from arsenals. A Government Accountability Office study of Arsenals in 2015 recommended that such guidance be developed.
Not included in the bill was a provision that Arsenal supporters have sought for two years now to create a pilot program allowing the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center more flexibility to adjust its labor rates to try to attract more business.
Beyond the Arsenal, the measure raises military pay by 2.4 percent, approves expanded authority for a range of military equipment, including C-130 cargo planes, prohibits a new round of military base closings in fiscal year 2018, and provides for an expanded number of service personnel.
A separate bill actually appropriates the money that will be spent by the Defense Department for 2018.