An expansion of a crucial intelligence organization on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has moved forward another step with Senate approval Monday evening.
A bill including $116 million for new construction at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), based at Wright-Patterson, passed easily, with senators voting 86-5 to approve a handful of funding needs, for energy and water protection and military construction and veterans affairs.
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Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R) had endorsed passage well before the vote, and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, whose district includes the Air Force base, had pushed for authorization of NASIC’s entire projected construction cost of more than $180 million.
The differences between the House and Senate bills will need to be reconciled in a conference committee before a final appropriations bill is passed.
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The $182 million project would vastly expand NASIC, add new computer labs and equipment and relieve overcrowding as the agency has grown to more than 3,000 workers over the past 15 years, authorities have said. The intelligence agency provides assessments of air, space and cyber threats to national political and military leaders.
In a House version of the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, the authorization bill combined what had been two years of funding for the project — $116 million one year, and $66 million for the next — into a single year.
Also approved with Monday’s vote: $277 million for Air Force bases to continue efforts to keep Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances – toxic chemicals known as “PFAS” – from getting into the local water supply and additional funding to further the development of alternative chemicals that are safer.
Monday’s “minibus” legislation includes a total of about $146.6 billion in spending, an increase of about $5.7 billion from 2018, and represents a quarter of the 12 annual appropriations bills, The Hill newspaper reported.