Defense Bill Includes $$$ To Study Missile Interceptor
The idea of a missile interceptor site on the east coast - for which Fort Drum has been mentioned as a home - apparently isn't dead yet.
A plan for defense spending announced Monday by members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate contains $20 million to study the feasibility of an interceptor site, Reuters reported.
Drum is one of five sites the Pentagon picked as a potential home for missile interceptors.
The very idea of missile interceptors is controversial; it's not clear whether they would work as advertised, knocking down enemy missiles before they explode in the U.S., and the military itself has questioned the need for an east coast interceptor.
The compromise bill announced by members of the House and Senate Monday "includes an extension of expiring special pays and bonuses that will otherwise expire on Jan. 1, a prohibition against creating any new Tricare user fees and raising any existing fees by more than 1.7 percent next October, and includes hundreds of other provisions affecting service members, retirees and their families," Military Times reported.
The compromise funds the Pentagon at a level higher than sequestration.
The agreement also changes how sexual assaults are handled, limiting the authority of commanders to to reduce or change findings of guilt. But the agreement does not remove the prosecution of sexual assult cases from the chain of command and turn them over to independent prosecutors, as New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand had sought.
Gillibrand is expected to get a separate vote in the Senate on her proposal.
"We are confident that we will get a vote. Regardless of what happens, the Senator will not go away, she will keep fighting to protect our brave men and women in uniform and to strengthen our military," a spokeswoman for Gillibrand said in an email.
It's also not clear whether Monday's agreement can get through the House and Senate by the end of the year, given that there is very little time left before the holidays. There was no commitment Tuesday from the leadership of the House to advance the bill, Politico reported, and it may have problems in the Senate as well, related to whether the U.S. should impose stricter sanctions on Iran.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016, Watertown, NY