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Senate defense bill has $66M less for Wright-Patt project than House

Spokesperson says Sen. Portman will argue for the additional money for major NASIC project.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has set aside $116 million for a National Air and Space Intelligence Center complex expansion at Wright-Patterson, millions less than a House version in a defense bill, but a spokeswoman says U.S. Sen. Rob Portman will advocate for the full amount.

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 secretive intelligence agency provides assessments of air, space and cyber threats to national political and military leaders.

“This is important for the political and national security work done at NASIC and good for the base,” Portman said.

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 one year.

Portman spokeswoman Emily Benavides said Friday while the Senate version wasn’t expected to impact construction, the senator would advocate for the full amount when it takes up the issue in June.

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RELATED: Massive project could be one of the largest in Wright-Patt history

The Air Force had initially asked for the funding in two separate amounts over different years.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, whose district includes Wright-Patterson, had advocated for the funding in one year in the House legislation.

The House Armed Services Committee member said in an interview sit was a “big win” for the base “which gives us the assurance this is a project that will go forward.”

As national decision makers and others have demanded more intelligence, NASIC’s workforce has increased by about 1,500 employees, or 100 a year between 2000 and 2015, according to the agency.

The building would bring employees in six different locations into one facility. An expansion would add 900 seats to house intelligence analysts and engineers and add labs.

NASIC expects the Army Corps of Engineers to award a final contact by 2020 with a 2½-year construction schedule. Total funding in future years will determine the size of the expansion, however the Air Force has said NASIC has a deficit of 255,000-square-feet, she said.

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