—Rachel S. Cohen
A construction worker looks at the partially demolished Chapel 2 at
Tyndall AFB, Fla., on Feb. 15, 2019. Restoring
Tyndall is expected to cost a few billion dollars, but an official
overseeing the effort cautions the exact number could change as the
service charts its next steps. Air
Force photo by SrA. Javier Alvarez.
A bipartisan group of eight senators on Tuesday introduced a sweeping $13.6 billion disaster-relief funding package that includes $1.1 billion for Air Force installations affected during the 2018 hurricane season.
The majority of the Air Force allocation—$700 million for military construction—can be spent on planning, design, and construction projects related to Hurricane Michael through Sept. 30, 2023, according to bill text released this week. But lawmakers want to hold that money until the service submits a plan for how it will spend the funds.
If the bill becomes law, House and Senate appropriators expect the Air Force to report on its basing plans and future mission requirements for the installations that were devastated by Hurricane Michael last October. A “detailed expenditure plan” is also required within 60 days of enactment.
Another $400 million in Air Force operations and maintenance would be designated as emergency spending. Appropriators request periodic updates on how those funds are being used as well.
Republican Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) collaborated on the government-wide funding package to address the aftermath of a year fraught with powerful hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and wildfires.
“There is still a lot to do, especially when it comes to rebuilding Tyndall Air Force Base, [Fla.],” Rick Scott said in a Feb. 26 release. “Disaster funding should not be a political fight and needs to be brought to the floor of the Senate as quickly as possible.”
Restoring Tyndall is expected to cost a few billion dollars, but an official overseeing the effort cautions the exact number could change as the service charts its next steps.
An Air Force spokesman did not say by press time how much the service thinks it needs to recover from Hurricane Michael, or whether the proposed funding is adequate. A spokeswoman for Perdue did not respond to a request for comment.
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