05/10/04 — Bill earmarks $35 million for Seymour Johnson

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Bill earmarks $35 million for Seymour Johnson

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on May 10, 2004 2:00 PM

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base could receive $35 million as part of the National Defense Authorization Bill for fiscal year 2005.

The bill authorizes $32.7 million for construction of 176 additional housing units, which is more money than any other base in North Carolina would receive for housing, said Brian Nick, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

The other $2.3 million would be for a military construction project. The specifics of the project will be announced later, he said.

Overall, the bill authorizes $424 million for the state's military, including more than $339 million for military construction, $58 million for family housing programs and $27 million for improvements to facilities supporting N.C. National Guard and Reserve forces.

Sen. Dole, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said the committee has completed its markup of the bill, which authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and national security programs of the Department of Energy. The full Senate is expected to consider the bill next week.

"This bill continues to improve the safety and quality of life of our service members, and it makes the investments we need to meet the challenges of the 21st century," she said.

Some of the N.C. programs authorized for money include those to detect biological and chemical weapons, develop nanotechnology and buy advanced electronic equipment.

Other highlights of the bill include provisions that will do the following:

*Authorize a 3.5 percent across-the-board pay raise for military personnel.

*Make permanent the increase in the rate of family-separation allowance from $100 per month to $250 per month and the rate of hostile-fire or imminent-danger pay from $150 per month to $225 per month.

*$603.2 million for force protection gear and combat clothing.

*$107.4 million to the Army and Marines for their Rapid Fielding Initiative and other equipment such as night vision devices and squad automatic weapons.

*$63.4 million for Special Operations Forces.

*Direct the U.S. Comptroller General to study the past contamination of drinking water at Camp Lejeune and potential adverse health effects to Marines and their families.

*Create a new benefit option to allow all members of the Select Reserve and their families to participate in Tricare medical insurance, regardless of duty status.