RAPID CITY, S.D. – The U.S. Senate passed legislation last week authorizing a record $858 billion in annual defense spending, $45 billion more than proposed by President Joe Biden, and rescinding the military’s COVID vaccine mandate.
The $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act, (NDAA) is about 10 percent more than last year’s NDAA.
Senators supported the NDAA, an annual must-pass bill setting policy for the Pentagon, by an overwhelming 83-11 bipartisan majority.
With the House of Representatives having passed the measure ahead of the Senate, the NDAA next heads to the White House, where Biden is expected to sign it into law.
South Dakota and Ellsworth Air Force Base will benefit on multiple levels from the bill. According to a release from Senator John Thune’s office, it includes funding for the future B-21 bomber mission, $336 million for new facility construction and the revival of a program to help school districts accommodate significant growth in student populations because of more military families moving to the area.
“Providing for our nation’s defense is one of the most serious and consequential responsibilities for members of Congress,” Thune said. “I am committed to ensuring that Ellsworth Air Force Base and its surrounding communities have everything they need for the B-21 bomber mission so Ellsworth can continue to serve as one of our nation’s essential military assets for decades to come.”
“This crucial bill is a prime example of Congress putting politics aside to provide for our strategic national security interests and to achieve results for our service members and their families. I am pleased this bipartisan legislation is heading to the president’s desk to be signed into law,” Senator Mike Rounds added.
*$3.25 billion for B-21 bomber development and $1.78 billion for low-rate initial production of the aircraft
*$335.9 million for military construction
*$15 million for school districts serving military families’ students to accommodate enrollment changes due to base closures, force structure changes, or force relocations
*Extends DoD authority to increase Basic Allowance for Housing in regions of high demand
*Extends prohibition on reducing B-1 maintenance personnel or further reduction in aircraft unless replaced with B-21s
*Establishes a dynamic airspace pilot program that would bolster training ranges like the Powder River Training Complex
*$23 million for B-1 bomber squadrons, including $10 million for hypersonic integration validation testing
*Extends $12 million authorization for Joe Foss Field aircraft maintenance shops
*Multi-year procurement authority for Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles used by the B-1