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Hawaii Is Designated For The Most Military Construction Funding Of Any State In The Upcoming Fiscal Year Under U.S. House Appropriations Committee-Approved Measure

$1.55 billion for Hawai‘i projects included in House Appropriations’ Fiscal Year 2025 bill covering military construction and veterans affairs

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Congressman Ed Case (HI-01) reported that the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, approved today by the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, includes over $1.55 billion in military construction projects for Hawai‘i, the most of any state.

“This major funding for critical Hawai‘i projects underscores all over again the key role Hawai‘i holds in our national defense as well as the key role of our armed services in Hawaii’s economy,” said Case, who is in his sixth year on Appropriations, previously served on the committee’s Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and currently serves on its Subcommittee on Defense.

“By allocating fully 8% of our total national and worldwide military construction budget to Hawai‘i, we are making a generational reinvestment in Hawai‘i in the critical facilities we need to meet the challenges of the Indo-Pacific.”

Some $1.2 billion, the largest share of total budget allocated to Hawai‘i, is to continue construction of new Drydock 5 at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, the largest and most expensive project in U.S. Navy history. This state-of-the-art facility and the Shipyard’s some 6,000 civilian employees will have the capacity to perform the highest levels of repair and maintenance on current and next-generation submarines and other vessels. Case has been focused on advancing and funding Drydock 5 since he returned to Congress in 2019.

Among the other projects for which Case advocated and which were included in the measure is a $36.6 million space control center at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the Hawai‘i Air National Guard’s (HIANG) space operations.

“The space domain is increasingly critical to our overall national defense, especially in the Indo-Pacific, Hawai‘i is once again key, and our HIANG, the U.S. Space Force and other defense assets require state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to perform their mission,” said Case.  

The measure also funds the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and various small agencies and programs supporting our nation’s some 19 million veterans, including some 112,000 throughout Hawai‘i, and their families.

The bill includes a number of priorities also advanced by Case and critical to Hawai‘i veterans, such as improving Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) veterans’ access to mental health care and increasing outreach to AANHPI veterans.

The measure also continued to support the VA Center for Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and United States-affiliated Pacific Islander (NHPIUSAPI) that works with the University of Hawai‘i and encourages the VA to partner with universities in the Pacific region focusing on issues unique to the NHPIUSAPI community.

The MilCon-VA measure is the first of twelve bills to be taken up by the House Appropriations Committee that will collectively fund the federal government for FY 2025 (commencing October 1, 2024). The proposed discretionary funding level is $147.5 billion, a decrease of almost $6.4 billion over the FY 2024 enacted level.

“For me, this is a mixed result,” said Case. “While the measure funds many critical national, Indo-Pacific and Hawai‘i priorities for our military infrastructure and veterans which I support, I regrettably had to vote against the measure overall because it reduces funding far below what is needed including $1.5 billion in cuts to critical military construction projects, shortchanges dedicated funding for Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) cleanup, eliminates climate and military base resiliency efforts, rejects important VA infrastructure funding and rejects diversity advancement initiatives.”

Further details follow:

Military Construction

The bill provides $17.9 billion for Department of Defense (DoD) military construction and family housing, nearly $412 million above the FY 2025 budget request. 

Besides Drydock 5 and the Space Control Center, other major Hawai’i projects advanced by Case and funded under the measure include $115 million for upgraded aircraft maintenance hangars at Wheeler Army Air Field in Wahiawā, and $204 million for upgraded aircraft maintenance hangars and aircraft parking aprons Marine Corps Base – Kāneʻohe.  

Other specific military construction programs and provisions requested and secured by Case include: 

·        $66 million specifically for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command projects. 

·        $636 million for the Energy Resiliency and Conservation Investment Program. 

·        $40 million for Air National Guard and $45 million for Army National Guard unspecified minor military construction. 

·        $52 million for defense-wide military construction and family housing. 

·        Directing the DoD to identify the Army’s investment needs in order to support the wildland firefighters located on Schofield Barracks.  

·        Directing the DoD to provide a report on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam infrastructure development plan, to address ongoing concerns of the aging water and wastewater facilities on the installation.

·        Directing the DoD to assess the aging infrastructure that houses the headquarters of the Marine Corps, Space Force and Special Operations Commands on O‘ahu.

Veterans-Related Programs

  The bill provides $129 billion in discretionary spending for veterans-related programs, $66 million above the FY 2025 budget request. It specifically includes $113 billion for veterans’ medical care, matching the President’s FY 2025 budget request. 

“Our Hawai‘i veterans and their families make up one of the largest percentages of any state in our nation including in such key areas like women and minority veterans. I continued to focus especially on the often unique challenges of delivering full veterans’ health and other benefits in a diverse island state,” said Case. 

The bill specifically includes $1.3 billion, an increase of over $300 million from the FY 2024 enacted level, to meet the need for specific care for women veterans and support the Office of Women’s Health, including its childcare initiative. These funds will allow the VA to continue hiring women primary care providers and to increase the number of peer support specialists for women veterans. These efforts have become even more critical as the number of female veterans using VA health care services has increased. 

Case’s committee included $22.8 billion for the Cost of War Toxic Exposure Fund, which provides funding to implement the Honoring our PACT Act.

The PACT Act, which Case supported and helped enact into law, expands health care and benefits for more than five million servicemembers who were exposed to dangerous burn pit fumes, Agent Orange and other toxins during their service. 

  Other specific veterans-related programs and provisions requested and secured by Case include: 

·        $5.8 million for the Native American Veteran Housing Loan Program, which is $2.6 million above the FY 2024 enacted level.

·        $60 million for the VA Grants for the Construction of Veterans Cemeteries, which regularly provides fundings to support Hawaii’s state cemeteries.

·        $263 million for opioid treatment and prevention efforts, which is $33 million above the FY 2024 enacted level. 

·        $6.4 billion for Telehealth and Connected Care. This will continue expansion of telehealth services and includes additional mental health, primary care and rehabilitation services.  

·        $3.2 billion for Veterans’ Homelessness Program Resources for our nation’s veterans, an increase of $97 million above the FY 2024 enacted level. This funding will enhance homeless veterans service providers ability to provide high demand care such as health services, substance use disorder programs, compensated work therapy and other supportive services.  

·        $337 million for Rural Health Initiatives, which is equal to the President’s budget request. This will improve access and quality of care for the more than 3 million enrolled veterans residing in highly rural areas. 

·        Directing the VA to provide $2.5 million to increase outreach through private organizations, related to mental health care for veterans and their families, through the Whole Family Care Partnership. 

·        Directing the VA to continue supporting the Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islanders (NHPIUSAPIs) Center. 

·        Directing the VA to develop a plan for implementing veterans benefits for veterans living in the Freely Associated States.

  The bill now moves to the full House of Representatives for expected consideration in June. 

  Attachment:  Copy of the FY 2025 MilCon-VA funding measure here.