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National Defense Bill Passes Senate With Schatz Legislation To Improve Red Hill Facility, Strengthen Public Data Transparency, And Provide Hawai‘i More Flexibility For Military Construction

Defense Bill Includes More Than $300 Million for Military Construction in Hawai‘i

WASHINGTON – Tonight, the U.S. Senate passed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), comprehensive legislation that authorizes defense funding for Fiscal Year 2018. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) helped secure Hawai‘i priorities and worked to include provisions he authored that will help fund improvements to the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, strengthen public data transparency, give Hawai‘i and states across the country more flexibility in funding for military construction, and measure the influence of foreign powers in the Pacific.

“The U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region is simply not possible without Hawai‘i,” said Senator Schatz. “This bill, and my provisions in it, reflect our state’s importance by addressing key military needs in Hawai‘i while also funding initiatives that will improve our communities and support our local economy.”

The Schatz provisions are focused on:

Strengthening transparency of government data
The NDAA includes Senator Schatz’s “OPEN Government Data Act,” a bipartisan bill he introduced with Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) that directs federal government data be open and available whenever possible to the public while preserving privacy and national security concerns. Open data—data that is made freely available to use without restrictions—has proven to be an enormously effective platform for innovation in the public sectors, supporting significant economic value; increasing transparency, efficiency, and accountability in government operations; and powering new tools and services that address some of the country’s most pressing economic and social challenges.

Strengthening Oversight of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility
The NDAA includes Senator Schatz’s “Red Hill Oversight and Environmental Protection Act of 2017,” which requires the Department of Defense to program funding in its future years budget that is necessary to make the improvements identified as part of the September 2015 Administrative Order on Consent/Statement of Work that the Navy and DLA entered with the EPA and State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Health. This will ensure available, long-term funding to improve Red Hill and protect Oahu’s drinking water from future fuel leaks. Senator Schatz introduced this bill with Hawai‘i’s congressional delegation in February.  

Authorizes greater flexibility for military construction in Hawai‘i
Senator Schatz secured a bipartisan amendment in the NDAA that authorizes the secretaries of the military services to adjust the unspecified minor military construction threshold for projects based on the area cost factor of the state—allowing states such as Hawai‘i that are constrained by high area costs to exceed the current limits allowed under current law. This practical change gives the military in Hawai‘i greater flexibility to improve facilities and develop minor projects that, because of the high cost of construction in Hawai‘i, would otherwise be forced through the formal, multi-year DoD military construction planning process.

Assessing China’s influence in the Western Pacific
Senator Schatz secured an amendment in the NDAA directing the Department of Defense to contract with an independent organization to study U.S. security and foreign policy interests in the Freely Associated States of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia, and to assess China’s influence in these states and how that influence is affecting America’s defense and foreign policy interests.

Authorized funding for Hawai‘i includes:

  • $10.4 million for Maui space surveillance system;
  • $90 million for Fort Shafter’s Command and Control Facility; 
  • $73.2 million for the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s sewer lift station;
  • $65.9 million for the Navy’s communications facility in Wahiawa;
  • $19 million for the Navy’s MV-22 landing pad;
  • $5.5 million for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s consolidated training facility;
  • $5 million for Wahiawa’s Kunia Tunnel Entrance;
  • $26.5 million for Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i’s Mokapu Gate; and
  • $25 million for the Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area.