House passes defense bill with Arsenal provisions

This article originally appeared in the Quad-City Times.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a large defense policy bill Friday that includes some provisions for the Rock Island Arsenal.

House approval came on a 375-34 vote. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 authorizes $618 billion in programs. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week.

The legislation is wide-ranging. But insofar as the Arsenal is concerned, it requires the Army to submit to Congress a plan for the long-term viability of manufacturing facilities, identify items purchased overseas that could be made at arsenals and other facilities and report on the manufacturing skills needed to sustain readiness in the U.S. armed forces.

The bill did not include a provision that was introduced earlier this year that would have created a pilot program to allow manufacturing facilities to adjust its labor rates. Area lawmakers, in both the House and the Senate, had hopes for the provision, which would have given the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center more flexibility.

Still, members of the House praised the legislation.

In a statement, Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said the bill would “strengthen the Arsenal for years to come.”

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said the Arsenal-related language will play a “critical role in equipping our troops and securing job growth” in the region.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who will join the U.S. Senate next year, also worked on the provisions and said they will enhance readiness, protect jobs and reduce “over-reliance on foreign goods in sensitive weapons systems.”