The U.S. Senate passed a $750 billion bill supporting the nation’s military on Thursday afternoon, some of the money being allotted to the Missouri Air National Guard base in St. Joseph.
An unusual postscript to the measure will play out today, the vote on an amendment that could be included retroactively in the National Defense Authorization Act.
In the 998-page bill resides $9.5 million for Rosecrans Memorial Airport. A subsequent explanation deeper in the document points out the money’s intent: a C-130 flight simulator facility.
The measure doesn’t mean a check will be imminently written. The act provides an outline for Defense Department programs and policies, with appropriations a separate process.
(Also, the House has yet to pass the bill, and it requires a presidential signature.)
But the inclusion of the Rosecrans money keeps in motion a long-sought project, one that enhances the health of the air base.
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, mentioned the C-130 simulator along with other Missouri military projects in a floor speech.
“Projects like these are necessary to ensure that our military is ready to fight and also to support their needs when they are at home,” the senator said.
With its Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center, the Rosecrans facility serves not only to prepare aircrews of the U.S. military but those from more than a dozen allied nations. Units from the 139th Airlift Wing have deployed around the world on combat and humanitarian missions.
Other Air National Guard bases got singled out for construction and property acquisitions in the bill, in California ($57 million), Georgia ($24 million), Wisconsin ($34 million) and Puerto Rico ($50 million).
Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, who sits on the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees military spending, also applauded the bill, which includes provisions to beef up the nation’s defenses to cyber attacks.
“This legislation will increase our nation’s cyber readiness, in addition to making certain that our armed forces are ready and equipped to defend our homeland across all domains to deter aggression and defeat our adversaries,” the Kansas Republican said.
Senators approved the measure by a vote of 86 to 8, not unusual for the typically bipartisan measure. Blunt said the Defense Authorization Act has passed for 58 previous years.
“Certainly the men and women who serve in the military do that job in a selfless way, and they deserve the best we can do to be sure they are never involved in an unfair fight,” the Missourian said.
The amendment to be voted on today has a more unbalanced backing. It would block President Trump from beginning a war against Iran without the approval of Congress.
Senate Democrats and at least a couple of Republicans have pushed for the vote, with some threatening a filibuster of the defense bill if it did not occur.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said he will vote against the amendment but made the unique arrangement to schedule it after passage of the overriding bill.
Timing had something to do this concession, since some senators were not available Thursday because of their participation in the Democratic presidential debate.
“None of our Democratic friends would be supporting this if there were a Democratic president. This clearly restricts administrations of both parties who we’ve seen take measured responses to Iranian acts of terror,” McConnell said Thursday. “I expect that it will be defeated.”