Bill would fund military construction in Hawaii
The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve a measure that includes $583 million for a dozen military construction projects in Hawaii.
The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, which passed 92-1 Thursday, earmarks nearly $209 million for island barracks and living quarters construction and improvements at Fort Shafter, Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield and Kaneohe Bay.
It also sets aside nearly $100 million for the construction of a facility at Pearl Harbor to make it difficult for U.S. submarines to be detected by enemy sensor systems. An additional $30 million would be used to upgrade two dry docks at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard to ensure competitiveness.
"These military construction initiatives will strengthen our national defense and improve the quality of life for our men and women in uniform," Sen. Daniel Inouye said in a news release issued by his Washington office.
"Furthermore, the funding for these projects underscores the fact that Hawaii's strategic location is key to our readiness for answering the challenges in the Asia-Pacific region," Inouye said.
The funding bill also includes an amendment, offered by Inouye, Sen. Ted Stevens (R, Alaska) and Lisa Murkowski (R, Alaska), to require the secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study "on access to medical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to veterans who live in remote rural areas."
"Ensuring access to health care for our veterans, who have sacrificed much for our country, is very important," said Inouye, who lost an arm while serving in World War II. "Veterans living in remote areas of Hawaii and Alaska can face more challenges in reaching VA facilities because of the noncontiguous nature of their state."
The bill now moves to a House-Senate conference committee. Inouye is one of the Senate conferees who will help shape the final version of the bill.