WASHINGTON — Senate Republican appropriators announced a proposed $13.45 billion aid package Tuesday that would include more than $2 billion to help the military respond to damage wrought by hurricanes Michael and Florence last fall.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., released the text of the bill, meant to address damage from various natural disasters across the country — some related to recent catastrophic flooding in the Midwest and some related to events in 2017 and 2018.
The bill would include $1.1 billion for the Air Force: $400 million would be applied to damages caused by Hurricane Michael to repair facilities and begin the process of rebuilding Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida; and $700 million in military construction funding for planning and design costs.
For the Coast Guard, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, there is $526 million to repair and upgrade facilities damaged by recent disasters, and provide for response and recovery operations costs.
For the Marine Corps, there’s $315 billion: $200 million in operations and maintenance funding to repair damage caused by Hurricane Florence to Marine Corps installations, including Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, both in North Carolina, as well as $115 million for planning and design.
There is also $42.4 million to replace unspecified Army National Guard facilities damaged by hurricanes Florence and Michael.
The Marine Corps reported $3.7 billion in damages connected to hurricanes Florence and Michael. Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said this week that unplanned deployments of Marines along the U.S.-Mexico border and natural disasters have strained the force to the point that it faces “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness.”
Though the bill does not appear to address the recent damage at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson pledged to help Offutt recover from the devastating flood that swamped one-third of the Nebraska base during a visit there Friday, Air Force Times reported.
“The United States Air Force will rebuild Offutt Air Force Base,” Wilson said. “We will work with the Nebraska congressional delegation to secure supplemental funds to be able to recover from the damage and make this base even better than it was.”
The bill also proposes $600 million go to supplemental disaster nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico stemming from 2017 hurricanes — a move perhaps to mollify Democrats who have said any disaster aid packages need to contain aid for the struggling island commonwealth.
“This legislation is the product of months of bipartisan discussions and contains important input from both sides of the aisle and both chambers of Congress,” Shelby said in a statement. “I hope my Democratic colleagues will join us in providing the relief these people need and not stand in the way just because it does not include every single provision they wanted.”