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Opinion: You should know what’s happening with national defense funding

Rep. Blake Moore speaks represents Utah Hill Air Force Base in Congress, an important part of Utah’s economy and U.S. national defense

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An F-35A Lightning II fighter flies through the sky near Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Air Force Capt. Kristin “BEO” Wolfe flies an F-35A Lightning II near Hill Air Force Base in Utah on Thursday, March 5, 2020.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

I grew up in Ogden, Utah, and our back deck faced the runways at Hill Air Force Base. Back in the ’90s, the F-16 Fighting Falcon was the premier fighter out of Hill, and I remember hearing the engines roar overhead and deepen my pride for my community and our brave military.

A lot has changed since then, both on and off base. 

Today, the fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter thunders over the skies of Davis and Weber counties. Hill Field has matured into the second-largest base in the entire Air Force, contributing an annual economic impact of $7.1 billion into our communities. The base is not only indispensable to the prosperity, livelihood and security of northern Utah, but also to the warfighter and our national defense. Today, Hill Air Force Base hosts the future of American nuclear deterrence, the first operational F-35 Fighter wing to deploy overseas, and cyberwarriors pivotal to the growing fight in cyberspace

Since my first day in office, I have proudly fought for Hill Air Force Base. Advocating for our airmen and surrounding defense community has been one of my most important roles in Congress. Collaborating with base leadership, the Utah Defense Alliance and military families helps prepare me for one of the most important bills that comes through Congress each year — the National Defense Authorization Act

This bill is the annual federal spending package that funds our military and authorizes defense policy. The bill goes through an extensive legislative process as we finesse national security priorities, and this year I celebrated my birthday with 17 straight hours of debate in the House Armed Services Committee markup to prepare the bill for the House Floor. Despite numerous disagreements with my colleagues on certain issues, we passed the National Defense Authorization Act nearly unanimously out of committee. After House passage, the bill is conferenced with the Senate’s version, and then a final bill will be voted on later this year.

The defense budget put forth by the Biden administration recklessly disregarded the impacts of inflation, attrition and peer competition on our military, and my colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, and I were able to reverse these injurious cuts to our military and restore funding for procurement, research and training while also protecting the rights and resources for our military families in the House-passed package. 

My team and I scored major wins for Hill Air Force Base and Utah’s defense community in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

  • We provided funding to replace the over-80-year-old 1,200 building series at Hill, which is no longer fit to house the personnel and missions it hosts.
  • We pushed for additional threat emitter capabilities to help the Utah Test and Training Range reach its full potential as the largest overland restricted airspace in the United States.
  • We secured another cycle of full funding for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent — which would bring up to 4,000 new jobs to Hill — to avoid harmful delays to nuclear modernization.
  • We directed the Air Force to address the inadequate quality and capacity of barracks across the country.
  • We prioritized our military families by passing a Department of Defense parents bill of rights and improving the Autism Care Demonstration Program for military children with special needs by removing bureaucratic hurdles to affordable care.

My House Republican colleagues and I were also successful in authorizing policy to deter Russian and Chinese aggression, improve supply chain security and industrial base readiness, provide boosts in pay and more. 

During a July trip to the Indo-Pacific, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley raised the flag that China is becoming “significantly more and noticeably more aggressive” in its interactions in the Pacific region. The National Defense Authorization Act is Congress’s main pathway to maintaining the U.S. military’s competitive advantage over China, including full funding of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, vigorous support of Taiwan, strengthened supply chains, and accountability for China’s crimes against the Uyghur minority and malign influence in the developing world.

As I watched the fighter planes screech above my head growing up, I never imagined that I would someday represent in Congress Hill Air Force Base and the community that built me. This is the honor of a lifetime, and I am deeply proud of the great work my team and colleagues were able to accomplish in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. I look forward to working with the Senate to ensure the final bill has the capabilities, prowess, and resources to bolster our national defense and provide for our military families.

Blake Moore is a congressman representing Utah’s 1st District.