The bill, approved 92-1, funds numerous construction projects at military installations nationwide, including a dramatic expansion in Maryland that could eventually bring 45,000 new jobs statewide. A similar version of the bill passed 409-2 in the House in June.
Maryland’s senators, Democrats Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin, both voted for the bill, which is expected to be reconciled with the House bill and sent to President Bush. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who opposed language in the bill that prevented the Department of Veterans of Affairs from selling the West Los Angeles Veterans Medical Center, cast the lone vote against it.
“I told Maryland’s military leaders I would fight for this funding,” Mikulski said in a prepared statement. “I will keep up my work to make sure Maryland communities have what they need in the federal checkbook to implement the BRAC recommendations.”
The bill includes $445 million for Washington-area military facilities, $287.1 million for Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, $165 million for Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County and $67.2 million for projects in southern Maryland.
All money set aside for Aberdeen Proving Ground is BRAC-related, with $245 million for the construction of a communications-electronics command center, $27 million for a medical research lab for biochemical defense and $2.9 million for an Army research lab.
Jim Richardson, Harford County economic development director, said it is also important to Aberdeen that Fort Lee in Virginia won $385 million in funding. That money will build the new Ordnance School and Center, which will be transferred from Aberdeen Proving Ground to Fort Lee to make room for the new communications facilities.
“With the money for Fort Lee, we can get the ball rolling for construction here,” Richardson said.
Fort Meade’s money will go toward: $152 million for a new Defense Information Services Agency building; $7.9 million for a new utilities building at the National Security Agency, and $4 million for an exterior stair tower at NSA needed to meet building safety codes. There is also $94,000 set aside for planning on a Clearance Adjudication Facility, which determines who receives certain levels of security clearance.
Bob Leib, a special assistant for the Anne Arundel County executive, said the bill’s passage is a major step in the construction process at Fort Meade.
“They’ve been receiving incremental funding since 2006, but this is the first real plug of construction money they’ve received,” he said.
Leib said the county is planning for BRAC with the understanding that Fort Meade will break ground on the Defense Information Services building next June or July.
In the Washington area, the largest chunk of money, $214.8 million, went to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda for construction of the Joint Medical Command Headquarters. It will consolidate the Navy hospital with Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, which made national headlines last year for its poor conditions.
Other funding in the Washington area will go toward the following:
— $150 m