McCarthy seeking quake funding
With Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake sustaining considerable damage during the July 4 and 5 earthquakes, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy added an amendment to fund repairs there to the $733 billion defense budget, which was passed by the House on Friday.
Th e epicenter of the two major quakes was on the vast base, which is within the Bakersfield Republican’s district, as is Edwards Air Force Base.
The amendment, approved during deliberations Thursday night, authorizes $100 million to address the base’s most immediate needs and calls for a plan to be developed by Oct. 1 to “assess, repair, and modernize the infrastructure and facilities at China Lake” and other installations which share the same restricted airspace, such as Edwards.
The base sustained damage that has left it incapable of performing its mission and non-essential personnel were evacuated, McCarthy said.
“This is significant because China Lake, along with neighboring installations, form a cornerstone of our national defense architecture that integrates all operational domains — air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace. The men and women who work here help test and develop the technology needed to equip our war-fighters with the very best weapons and tools to ensure our military remains second to none,” McCarthy said in introducing the amendment.
He also stressed this funding was only the initial step to help the base and
surrounding communities impacted by the earthquakes to recover.
While McCarthy submitted the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, he voted against the final bill, which passed on a 220-197 party-line vote. No Republicans voted in favor of the bill, stating it weakened national security on the whole.
The Valley’s other Congressional representative, Rep. Katie Hill, voted in favor of the defense budget.
The Agua Dulce Democrat highlighted local impacts in the bill, including an additional $33 million above the budget request for the U-2 modernization program at Plant 42 in Palmdale; purchase of 90 F-35 fighters and 73 UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, for which portions are manufactured locally; $50 million for the Defense Community Infrastructure Program to address deficiencies at bases and $3 billion for the B-21 bomber program.
“At every single step of draf t ing and passing the
( National Defense Authorization Act), our communi t y ’ s wellbeing — its safety and its economic security — has been my only priority,” Hill said in a statement about the passage. “I’m extremely proud to have been a part of securing mission-critical funding and program development, in addition to supporting tens of thousands of local jobs, unlocking new opportunities for our community, and strengthening transparency and accountability in our government.”
The final bill reflects priorities of the Democratic majority’s progressive wing and is $17 billion less than the Trump administration’s budget request.
Among the provisions are a ban on the deployment of a new submarine-launched low-yield nuclear missile, prevention of shifting military funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and a ban on transferring detainees to Guantanamo Bay prison.
It also includes a repeal of the administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.
Other provisions are broadly popular, including a 3.1% pay raise for military service members and authorization to procure new weapons systems, and expanded health and child benefits for military families.
Another provision would deliver 12 weeks of paid family leave to all federal workers.
With the Senate having passed its own $750 billion defense budget last month, lawmakers will have to work to reconcile the two competing versions.
The Trump administration has promised to veto the House version.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.