September 17, 2017

Duckworth, Durbin, Grassley, Ernst NDAA Amendment Will Help Ensure Long Term Success of Rock Island Arsenal


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), along with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), filed a bipartisan amendment, which was included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), that will help reduce government waste and ensure the long-term success of the Rock Island Arsenal. The senators' bipartisan amendment will ensure the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) first seeks out existing government owned spaces on military installations like Rock Island to house government offices before leasing commercial space for government purposes. The Duckworth amendment will also help prevent the Arsenal's closing in any future base realignment and closure (BRAC) processes by ensuring DOD uses Rock Island's facilities more efficiently.

"Bottom line, we shouldn't be spending taxpayer dollars on commercial spaces when places like Rock Island already have state of the art facilities," said Senator Duckworth. "This amendment will not only help ensure the government acts as a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, but it will also help protect the more than 6,000 jobs at the Arsenal. The Rock Island Arsenal is key to our state economy and national security, and I will continue my work to enhance military readiness at the Arsenal while also working to cut unnecessary spending."

"During my visit to Rock Island a few weeks ago, Arsenal leaders noted the opportunity to use existing space for other federal entities. I wholeheartedly agree. Adoption of this amendment is the first step in that bipartisan effort," said Senator Durbin. "Time and time again, Rock Island Arsenal has been there for our state, our nation, and our men and women in uniform. I will continue working to ensure Rock Island Arsenal remains a strong leader in our nation's defense and a powerful economic engine for Illinois."

"The Rock Island Arsenal has move-in ready office space that could immediately accommodate about 850 people with the ability to accommodate many more with minor adjustments," Senator Grassley said. "Too much underutilized space on a base can be a liability if Army number crunchers get the idea that it's too big for its needs, but it is also an opportunity for DoD to save money on leased space and the Rock Island Arsenal to attract additional workforce. Our amendment is a win-win for the community and the taxpayers."

"This amendment encourages the government to utilize existing federal properties more efficiently and effectively, benefitting both our nation's readiness and the long-term economic success of the Rock Island region," said Senator Ernst, a combat veteran. "This is a commonsense solution that supports Rock Island Arsenal while curbing government waste and saving taxpayer dollars. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will continue to advocate for this bipartisan initiative throughout the NDAA process."

This bipartisan amendment will require the DOD to certify that there is not already existing space on military installations before leasing commercial real estate elsewhere. Senators Duckworth, Durbin, Grassley and Ernst also filed the following provisions as the Senate considered the NDAA:

· The Codify "Make/Buy Guidance" Amendment would have helped strengthen the Arsenal's workload by requiring contracting officials to consider arsenals for manufacturing projects.

· The STEM(MM) (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, maintenance and manufacturing) Jobs Action Plan Amendment would have helped address the need for STEM jobs at Rock Island's Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center by requiring the DOD Secretary to perform an assessment of the STEM(MM) workforce at arsenals, depots and ammunition plants, including the numbers and types of positions and expectations of loss due to retirements and voluntary departures.

Duckworth and the entire bi-state congressional delegation have made supporting the Rock Island Arsenal a priority in their efforts to serve the people of the Quad Cities. As a Congresswoman, Duckworth partnered with Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and Dave Loebsack (IA-2) to pass legislation that reduces the Department of Defense's reliance on foreign manufacturers for critical weapons systems, which will help create and keep jobs at the Arsenal. In March, Duckworth visited the Arsenal and met with its leadership to discuss the importance of the Arsenal to local jobs and our national security.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Ernst was able to secure legislation in the NDAA to make it easier for the Arsenal to lease space to private businesses. This built on past legislative efforts and communications with the Army by Senator Grassley and the rest of the delegation.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Durbin has worked across the aisle to bring federal investment to Rock Island and ensure its long-term sustainability. Along with the support of the entire delegation, Durbin has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to help the Arsenal compete more effectively for private-public partnerships, extended the Rock Island Arsenal's Humvee ambulance production line, and put arsenals on a level playing field with other military installations.