The House Appropriations Committee has passed a defense funding bill that includes a 3 percent pay raise for troops, as well as more than $230 million for projects supporting Maryland’s military-minded economy. The Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2021 now heads to the full U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.
The $695 billion bill supports force readiness and improves quality-of-life programs for military families. A Defense Appropriator, Ruppersberger leveraged his role to secure funding that will benefit Maryland’s 15 military installations ― which support more than 150,000 jobs ― as well as the research and development conducted by Maryland-based contractors to make American troops safer on the battlefield. Together, they compromise 15 percent of the state’s economy.
Much of the federal government’s medical research funds are funneled through the Defense spending bill, because of their impact on wounded warriors and veterans. Congressman Ruppersberger helped secure funding for military projects and medical research underway in Maryland. Highlights include:
- $5 million for a pilot program to expand telehealth services to children in military families with severe behavioral challenges that currently includes the Kennedy Krieger Institute;
- $20 million for the Army Artificial Intelligence Innovation Institute (A2I2) at the Army Research Lab, headquartered in Adelphi;
- $10 million for the Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Program, which supports better armor for troops using research at Maryland institutions including The Johns Hopkins University;
- $40 million for the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program, which includes the University of Maryland School of Medicine and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine;
- $30 million for the Peer-Reviewed Orthopedic Research Program, which includes the University of Maryland School of Medicine and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine;
- $105 million for the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, to improve water quality, fight sea level rise and reduce land-use conflicts on and near military installations like Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Additionally, the bill included several critical provisions supported by Congressman Ruppersberger that:
- Prevent President Trump from using defense funds to build his border wall and require any unused funds that were taken for the border wall for the current fiscal year to be returned;
- Prohibit unnecessary nuclear weapons testing;
- Confirm the language in the Justice in Policing Act to de-militarize police;
- Provide $1 million to the Army for renaming installations, facilities and roads that bear the name of Confederates;
- Repeal both the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force and make clear that Congress has not authorized war against Iran. None of these amendments prevent the President from protecting U.S. citizens or U.S. service members by using his Article II authorities.