Local Politics

N.C. senators split vote on defense appropriations bill

Posted December 19, 2009 3:17 p.m. EST
Updated December 19, 2009 10:35 p.m. EST

— Republican Sen. Richard Burr was among 10 senators who voted against a $626 billion defense spending bill early Saturday, while Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan was among 88 who voted for it.

The defense bill was the last of 12 annual spending bills that Congress had to pass for the budget year that began Oct. 1. The latest stopgap measure to fund the Pentagon expired at midnight Friday.

Burr criticized the bill for not funding the troop increase in Afghanistan, ordered by President Barack Obama, and for including $18 billion on what he described as "unrelated spending."

“I have always been proud to vote for the funding of our troops and our national defense. However, I am disappointed that this year, the defense funding bill is filled with spending that is unrelated and not offset through savings elsewhere in the government," Burr said in a statement.

"In a time of war, for Congress to ignore this funding shows a disregard for the servicemen and women who are away from their families this holiday season fighting on our behalf," he continued.

The bill includes two-month extensions of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless, health care subsidies for those out of work, highway and transit funding, three provisions of the terrorism-fighting Patriot Act, and legislation shielding doctors from a steep cut in Medicare payments.

Hagan praised the passage of an amendment that she and Burr had co-sponsored. The amendment prevents the Navy from disposing water contamination claims before studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are finished.

“(This) critical amendment will help bring closure to our former Lejeune families,” Hagan said in a statement. "The Navy must commit to funding the remaining CDC water contamination studies, and this amendment makes sure no claims are dismissed before the studies are complete. I will continue working to help these families get answers."

The legislation also includes $1.25 million to establish three National Guard Family Assistance Centers in North Carolina to support families that do not live near bases.

“Family Assistance Centers ensure that members of the North Carolina National Guard and their families have access to essential services no matter which part of the state they call home,” Hagan said.

Other funding directed by a number of North Carolina lawmakers includes:

  • $3.2 million for the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University to research returning soldiers' injuries from the field, including organ replacement
  • $2.4 million for Operation Re-Entry North Carolina to help rehabilitate veterans and their families
  • $1.12 million to connect motorsports vehicle expertise to military vehicles. This partnership, organized by the Institute for Defense and Business, will provide the military with rapid solutions to different operational challenges facing military vehicles.
  • $1.5 million to combat a corrosion problem with the gearboxes of Blackhawk Helicopters. United Protective Technologies, located in Locust, N.C., has proposed creating a thin, electrically nonconductive film.
  • $800,000 for the North Carolina National Guard to support drug-fighting operations
  • $1.2 million to buy flame resistant shirts and pants for deploying and training Marines
  • $800,000 to fund the second phase of a clinical trial of an advanced burn care dressing
  • $3.2 million to develop an environmentally sealed, rugged, thin form factor, projection display in military helicopter cockpits. This display system will have the capability to operate in the world’s harshest conditions without the use of air vents for cooling and will offer better performance for the pilot, longer service life and reduced total lifecycle cost.
  • $1.6 million to advance acid alkaline direct methanol fuel cell technology to supply soldiers with a lighter, more energy dense power source
  • $800,000 for a Combined Arms Collective Training Facility at Fort Bragg that will maximize combat training benefits for soldiers
  • $1.6 million for the development of Gallium Nitride microelectronics and power device technology that will enhance the effectiveness of many defense applications
  • $800,000 to develop a high speed bearing for aerospace applications that will provide the military with a product that exceeds the requirements of the Air Force’s next generation engine and can be effectively used in the field
  • $2.8 million for the Ultra Light Camouflage Net System, a next-generation camouflage system to protect Marines in combat.  The system is produced in North Carolina.