Bustos, Loebsack Introduce Legislation to Strengthen Rock Island Arsenal and Bolster Quad-Cities’ Economy

WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) introduced the bipartisan Army Arsenal Revitalization Act, which aims to increase the amount of business directed to Army arsenals, such as the Rock Island Arsenal. Joining Representatives Bustos and Loebsack as original cosponsors are Representatives Bruce Westerman (AR-04) and Paul Tonko (NY-20), both of whom represent districts with manufacturing arsenals. Bustos and Loebsack also introduced the Arsenal Installation Reutilization Authority to reauthorize the leasing authority at Department of Defense arsenals for unused office space to outside tenants. This legislation authorizes arsenals to be able to approve 25 year leases until September of 2020, which will help produce jobs and generate income for arsenals until 2045.

“For more than a century, the hardworking men and women at the Rock Island Arsenal have strengthened our national security by manufacturing equipment that protects our troops,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “As the economic engine that drives our region’s economy, ensuring the Arsenal’s success for the future is among my top priorities. These bills address two of the major obstacles the Arsenal faces: increasing workload and bringing down overhead. I’m proud to work with Congressman Loebsack to help remove barriers to the Arsenal’s success and bolster its competitiveness for years to come.”

“The Rock Island Arsenal not only supports the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, but is a critical piece of the Quad Cities economy. As a former member of the House Armed Services Committee, one of my top priorities remains, to ensure the Arsenal has the resources it needs to stay strong and remain competitive,” Congressman Loebsack said. “The Arsenal is vital to the local economy and work must continue in order to secure and strengthen its future. I am proud to have worked with Congresswomen Bustos on this legislation that will play a critical role in equipping our troops and spurring economic development in the Quad Cities region. As always, I will continue my efforts to advocate for the Arsenal and its workforce.”

The Rock Island Arsenal plays a necessary role in our armed forces by adapting to the needs of the military and quickly manufacturing critical items to protect our troops. Maintaining this line of defense requires that the Department of Defense take deliberate steps to ensure that their skilled workforce and these facilities are ready for the next challenge. The Army Arsenal Revitalization Act of 2017 requires the Department of Defense to issue guidance for how it will provide the necessary workload for arsenals, including identifying items currently purchased from foreign entities that could be made here at home. It also allows Army arsenals to function more like a company by adjusting the rates they charge customers for labor as needed to be competitive with industry.

Specifically, the Army Arsenal Revitalization Act:

Increases Competition Sources for Department of Defense Contracts. This bill requires the Department of Defense to identify legacy items and sole source contracts over a certain dollar amount and to consider Army arsenals as manufacturers for these items going forward.

Adds Flexibility for Labor Rates Charged to Arsenal Customers. Army arsenals need the tools to keep themselves viable and competitive. The Army Arsenal Revitalization Act creates a 3-year pilot program in which arsenals will be able to adjust their labor rates throughout the year based upon their workloads and other factors instead of charging a fixed rate, which is often non-competitive.

Requires “Make-or-Buy” Guidance from the Army. To help ensure the arsenals can plan ahead and remain skilled and competitive, the bill requires the Army to issue guidance on how it will decide which items it will make in arsenals and which it will purchase from other sources.

Specifically, the Arsenal Installation Reutilization Authority:

Allows arsenals to lease real or personal property for the purposes of leveraging private investment at military manufacturing arsenals through long-term facility use contracts, property management contracts, leases or other such agreements. This bill is designed to utilize unused administrative and warehouse space on the Island, helping to bring workload and continued employment to the Island.