WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the midst of the heated congressional debate over funding for national infrastructure repairs, Utah’s freshman Rep. Blake Moore has skin in that high-stakes game.
In an effort to protect Utah’s economic powerhouse Hill Air Force Base, Moore and his allies in the U.S. House of Representative want military arsenals, depots and ammunition plants to be included in the multi-trillion dollar infrastructure legislation being pushed by Democrats.
If approved by Congress, that funding could potentially benefit the Air Logistics Command depot at Hill AFB in Moore’s 1st Congressional District.
“Depot facilities remain the backbone of our military readiness,” Moore argues. “It is time for federal investments to reflect their indispensable role in our national security.”
Moore and a bipartisan group of 12 representatives sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on June 10 encouraging her to incorporate funding for Department of Defense industrial facilities in any final version of infrastructure legislation.
Moore and Rep. Cheri Bustros (D-IL) also recently sent correspondence to President Joe Biden urging him to include military industrial facilities in any pending legislation to strengthen the nation’s commercial supply chains.
“Much of the vital work happening in my district to sustain the readiness of the U.S. Air Force is done in antiquated and obsolete World War II-era facilities,” Moore explains. “While the professionalism and expertise of our talented workforce exceeds the highest standards of readiness, maintenance backlogs are increasing costs and hurting morale.
“Military readiness is not simply the ability to fight and meet the demands of current missions. It must also support our capacity to surge, confront and surmount any future threat.”
In late March, Biden introduced a proposal called “The American Jobs Plan,” which called for massive federal investment in American infrastructure unlike any seen since the construction of the interstate highway network in the 1950s and the Space Race of the 1960s.
According to Democrats, that nearly $2 trillion proposal will create millions of good jobs, rebuild America’s infrastructure and position the United States to compete economically with China.
That plan is opposed by most Republicans on Capitol Hill, who condemn Biden’s proposal as too expensive and chock-full of pork-barrel spending projects that have little to do with America’s infrastructure concerns. The GOP also opposes a Biden-sponsored tax proposal to fund “The American Jobs Plan” that they say would stymie business grown and investment.
Despite that opposition, the House allies argue in their letter to Pelosi that the nation’s military arsenals and depots are as much vital parts of America’s infrastructure as road and bridges.
“Modernizing the (DoD) organic industrial base would play a critical role in our efforts to meet national defense strategy and compete with near-peer rivals, “ they wrote.
Of course, a significant federal infrastructure upgrade at Hill AFB will also tend to make the installation less vulnerable to any future cutbacks in the U.S. defense establishment.
Hill AFB is Utah’s sixth-largest employer. More than 10,000 service members and their dependents are assigned to the base, with many of them residing in the nearby communities of Layton, Clearfield, Riverdale, Roy and Sunset.
One of the base’s tenant organizations is the Ogden Air Logistics depot, which employs more than 16,000 civilian workers. In 2020, Hill Air Force base pumped more than $3 billion into Utah’s economy, including an annual payroll of nearly $1.5 billion, with about 75 percent of that amount going into civilian employees’ paychecks.
The bipartisan signatories of the letter to Pelosi included Representatives Don Bacon (R-NC), Stephanie Brice (R-OK), Anthony Brown (D-MD), John Curtis (R-UT), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Burgess Owens (R-UT), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Micheal Turner (R-OH) and Joe Wilson (R-SC).